The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) joined its partner, AltaMed, and other local community members in celebrating September as Latino Health Awareness Month at the Food4Less in Maywood. Latino Health Awareness Month celebrates healthy living as part of the Latino community's rich cultural heritage and traditions. The event featured activities in support of Public Health's Be Better campaign, which encourages families to make small changes to eat healthier and be more active every day.
Improving the health of Latino families and reducing health disparities is a priority of Public Health and the Be Better campaign. In LA County, nearly a quarter of adults and children are obese, over 700,000 people have been diagnosed with diabetes, and 2 out of 5 adults are estimated to have prediabetes already. These sobering statistics are tempered by the fact that these conditions are potentially preventable or manageable with healthy lifestyles.
"By empowering parents, our hope is that small improvements in diet and physical activity will add up to big changes for the health and wellbeing of every family member, including children who are at risk for obesity," said Cynthia Harding, MPH, Interim Health Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. "Making small changes, such as drinking water instead of sugary drinks and cooking traditional recipes in healthier ways can go a long way in the fight against obesity and diabetes for many Latino families."
In a partnership with AtlaMed and Public Health, grocery stores have implemented changes to market healthier food items to families, including stocking healthier food options and beverages at checkout stands and signage encouraging patrons to include fruits and vegetables in family meals.
"AltaMed is committed to improving the lives of those in the Southeast LA community through our Healthy Communities, Healthy Lives Initiative," said Dr. Ilan Shapiro, Director of Health Education and Wellness for AltaMed. "We are helping Latino families make healthier choices by educating them on how to shop smart and purchase healthier items when at the grocery store."
With help from Public Health and AltaMed, Food4Less is one of the grocery partners incorporating changes to some of their stores in LA County. The Food4Less Maywood location is the first to implement the signage to encourage customers to add fruits and vegetables to their daily meals.
"We are honored to be a partner of the Latino Health Awareness Month festivities to help families make healthier choices," said Kendra Doyel, Vice-President Corporate Affairs for Ralphs Grocery Co., which also operates Food4Less. "These are great tools for helping our customers select healthier alternatives."
As part of the event, attendees were invited to cooking demonstrations, a Rethink Your Drink booth highlighting ways to make plain water taste better, CalFresh enrollment, a photo booth, and more.
The Latino Health Awareness Month event in Maywood was one of two such celebrations held in LA County. For more information, tips and recipes, families are encourage to visit CAChampionsForChange.net .