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Childhood obesity, nutrition and food in the Los Angeles area

Childhood obesity, nutrition and food in the Los Angeles area

Picture of Michelle Valles

My colleague Melissa Pamer are doing a 2-fold approach in our project, a unique online-broadcast collaboration that we'll begin to realize through the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship.  

Working as a team for NBC4 Southern California, we'll take on a hot topic that we want to humanize: childhood obesity. The double digits statistics you've might have seen lately in published reports are astonishing and keep climbing. People dealing with obesity know the causes of this pandemic, or do they? And either way what are the triggers or probable solutions that could result in a behavioral changes for the better when dealing with obese children. Is it really cultural, financial, genetic, educational or all of the above and more. 

We hope to explore all of that with a focus on the largely Latino cities in the Los Angeles region that are struggling with childhood obesity and overweight rates of greater than 45 percent, well above county, state and national averages. Also areas  taken pro-active measures in social and community programs to reduce the numbers. We'll explore their attempts and see if those are resulting in healthier lifestyles.

Telling the story of childhood obesity through these communities – via individuals' stories, not just through data – will put a face on a public health epidemic that disproportionately affects impoverished areas. Not just revealing the problem, but maybe some catalyst for change. 

While we will acknowledge the enormous roles that physical activity and access to green space play in combating obesity, we believe a focus on food lets us be more personal in our storytelling and more intimate with our subjects.

We hope our stories – both on air and posted on a soon-to-be-created special section on  – will help some families begin to discuss food and nutrition in new and healthy ways.

Image by Visit Greenwich via

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