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SDSU Gets Grant To Fight Obesity In Imperial County

Aired 10/12/11 on KPBS News.

The Centers for Disease Control has awarded San Diego State University's Institute for Behavioral and Community Health a $6 million dollar grant to combat childhood obesity in Imperial County.

Aired 10/12/11 on KPBS Midday Edition.

Graduate School of Public Health Professor Guadalupe Ayala, the grant's lead investigator, says researchers will be working with schools, grocery stores, restaurants and hundreds of families to promote healthy eating habits and exercise.

Transcript

We'll have more on the SDSU grant on Wednesday's show.

Evening Edition airs weekdays at 5 PM and 6:30 PM on KPBS TV

San Diego State University's Institute for Behavioral and Community Health has received a $6-million dollar grant from the Centers for Disease Control to combat childhood obesity in Imperial County.

The focus will be on Imperial County. It has a childhood obesity rate of 39 percent, the highest in California. The statewide average is 28 percent.

Graduate School of Public Health Professor Guadalupe Ayala, the grant's lead investigator, says researchers will be working with schools, grocery stores, restaurants and hundreds of families to promote healthy eating habits and exercise.

"It's a demonstration study," she said. "The idea is to take the best practices we've developed at the institute to try to affect changes in multiple settings that kids interact with."

For example, Ayala hopes to have restaurants introduce healthy options and get schools to increase physical activity.

"It's a holistic approach to trying to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity," said Ayala.

One idea in the plan is to give students more healthy food options. Many schools in Imperial County lack working water fountains, which in the past have led students to turn to sugary drinks. Schools have banned high-calorie soft drinks, but they haven't provided students with alternatives.

Ayala said they plan to replace old drinking fountains with water jets, which are inexpensive and have had a great impact on other parts of the country.

"We also have a clinical focus. Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo will be working with them to try to increase access to treatment associated with childhood obesity," she said.

Imperial County's Public Health Department will also be involved in the efforts.

Imperial County also has high unemployment and poverty, which Ayala said are some of the factors contributing to the its high obesity rate.

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