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Childhood obesity rates level off in California and L.A. County

November 9, 2011 | 12:55 pm

Photo: A recent study shows California is making modest gains in attacking childhood obesity. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles TimesNearly 40% of California's students were overweight or obese last year, a slight drop from 2005, according to a study released Wednesday.

The 1.1% decline in the obesity rate shows that the state is making modest gains in attacking childhood obesity, which has been linked to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes, according to the authors. 

"In general we think this study provides a little bit of encouraging news," said Susan Babey, one of the authors.      

But there is still much to be concerned about, with 38% of children in fifth, seventh and ninth grades being overweight or obese, she said. "That is a very large percentage of kids in the state," she said.

Imperial County had the highest obesity rate at 47% and Marin County had the lowest at 24%. Los Angeles had a rate in 2010 of 42%, a slight drop from 2005.

California spends more than $21 billion on the health consequences of the obesity epidemic, more than any other state, according to the study.

The authors recommended several policy and environmental changes that they said could push the rates down further. Among the recommendations were eliminating the sale of unhealthy foods in schools and providing financial incentives for opening grocery stores and farmers markets in underserved areas.

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-- Anna Gorman

Photo: A recent study shows California is making modest gains in attacking childhood obesity.

Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

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