Food Coach

LA County teams up with restaurants to make healthy changes

Thursday, September 12, 2013

There's a new effort to get people to eat less and healthier when they eat out.

Teaming up with area restaurants and a grant from First 5 LA, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is cooking up a new campaign called Choose Health LA to help fight fat.

"This is just the launch. This is just the beginning," said Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

According to L.A. County statistics, nearly a quarter of low-income children 3 and 4 years old are obese or overweight while adult onset diabetes is the fastest growing disease among teens.

"The financial implications in addition to the quality of life implications on that population is horrific," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

Currently, L.A. County spends $6 billion yearly on weight-related issues.

"There is no panacea. There is no one thing we can do that is going to solve this problem," said Fielding.

But there are a handful of things to try, such as cutting portions by 25 to 30 percent.

"Our partner restaurants are offering smaller portions of existing menu items. They're also offering healthy and healthier children's meals," said Fielding.

Those include fruit, vegetables, healthy beverages, non-fried food and free chilled water. Subway and Poquito Mas chains are on board, along with a handful of L.A. eateries. More are encouraged to get their logo on the menu because the program is free to participating restaurants.

An L.A. County survey says a typical family in the county eats out four times weekly, yet 85 percent say they're in favor of reduced sized portions.

Perhaps the best message here is it's not about dieting. It's about eating what you want, just simply less of it. For example, a typical 12-inch Subway could be about 1,100 calories. Well cut that in half for a six-inch and you've got half the calories. And even for your little one, there's the three-inch sub.

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