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County combats child obesity

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The county Public Health Department received more than $300,000 to help slim the county’s children and fight an obesity “epidemic.”

The grant, awarded by the California Endowment, will help public health officials reduce childhood obesity. Nearly 70 percent of the county’s fifth, seventh, and ninth-graders in 2005 were classified as unfit by the California Department of Education. Another 32 percent of the children studied were overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. Even 30 percent of children in preschool—between 3 and 5 years old—were found to be overweight or at risk. In 2006, a county survey found that 44 percent of children consumed fast food more than once per week.

The grant money will go toward programs already identified in 2006 by the Childhood Obesity Prevention Task Force. In addition to funding some of the task force’s 184 recommendations, grant money will also be used to enhance student wellness policies in the county’s school districts, develop programs in high-risk communities, and benefit the HEAL-SLO (Healthy Eating Active Living) Coalition. ∆

—Colin Rigley

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