SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego State University was awarded $6 million from the Centers for Disease Control to combat childhood obesity in Imperial County, the school announced Tuesday.
SDSU's Institute for Behavioral and Community Health will lead the effort in conjunction with the Imperial County Public Health Department and Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo Inc.
Imperial County has California's highest childhood obesity rate at 39 percent, compared to the statewide average of 28 percent.
"Childhood obesity is the most prevalent chronic health condition among youth, and Latino children are at particularly high risk because of a number of factors," said Guadalupe Ayala, professor in the Graduate School of Public Health and the grant's lead investigator.
The effort will involve about 1,500 children ages 2-10, and will also involve families, grocery stores and restaurants in an effort to promote healthy eating, according to the school.
Ayala said schools have banned soft drinks and other sugar-based beverages but have not provided healthy alternatives.
"Many of these schools don't have functioning drinking fountains, so we plan to introduce water jets that have had great results in other parts of the U.S." Ayala said.
She said she hopes to have restaurants introduce healthier children's menus, increase physical activities and help start community gardens. Positive results can then be applied to other communities, she said.
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