By Brian Day
December 25, 2008
Baldwin Park's attack on fat was recently rewarded with a $400,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Baldwin Park was one of 10 communities to win the grant. And with massive cuts planned for government spending, the grant could not have come at a better time, officials said.
A third of all youngsters in Baldwin Park are overweight or obese, Soto said, which is the highest rate in suburban Los Angeles County.
One theory on the causes of obesity suggests there may be a connection between economics and waistlines.
A 2005 report in the American Economist discusses what's known as the "food choice constraint model," which states that lower-income people are more likely to purchase less-costly, unhealthy foods over more expensive and healthier options.
In Baldwin Park, state officials reported unemployment had reached 10.4 percent in October, one of the highest rates of unemployment in the county.
"There are many reasons why kids become overweight, but some of it is the sedentary life-style, the lack of physical activity opportunities and the lack of healthy food access," said Rosa Soto, the director for the organization heading up the effort.
The grant is to fund walking paths, recreational facilities and programs, and to encourage local food vendors to carry more healthy options in their stores, Soto said.