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New “LiVe” Public Service Campaign Addresses Childhood Obesity & Diabetes

El Sausal Middle SchoolSALINAS, CA, March 24, 2010 --- Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System today launched a new public service campaign targeting childhood obesity and diabetes. The LiVe Campaign encourages children on the Central Coast to be more physically active, make smart food choices, and make healthier living a family affair.

Salinas Valley Memorial launched the Live Campaign at two Salinas schools today—in front of approximately 800 students total between El Sausal Middle School and Washington Middle School. Students were treated to a show by the BMX Pro Team, which underscored the importance of remaining physically fit. The students also saw a snack demonstration by Adrienne Saldivar-Meier, host of Simply Fresh TV, which is sponsored by Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System. Saldivar-Meier showed the students how to make a mesquite snap pea snack that could take the place of barbequed potato chips, saving hundreds of empty calories per serving. Salinas Valley Memorial also unveiled the TV and radio campaign that will support this program.

Childhood obesity is a serious epidemic facing California and the entire nation.

• Studies show that teenagers today are three times as likely to be obese as those in the 1980's.

• One third of all children are overweight or obese.

• In 2009, only 38% of high school freshmen met six fitness criteria established by the state of California. Monterey County freshmen fared even worse—only 33% met the fitness test.

• California has the 28th highest percent of obese and overweight children.

• Obesity can affect virtually every organ system in a child's body.

• Obesity complications are driving up the cost of healthcare. In 2000 the direct medical cost of obesity for children and adults in the United States was estimated to be $61 billion. By 2018 the cost of obesity-related conditions could double to nearly 21% of all direct healthcare expenditures.

Snack demonstration by Adrienne Saldivar-Meier, host of Simply Fresh TV"This may be the most critical health issue for this generation," said Nathan Olivas, President of the Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System Board of Directors. "If this issue isn't addressed, the crisis will cause even more serious health impacts in the future."

The LiVe Campaign includes TV and radio advertising, new education materials for health providers, an interactive website, and informational offerings for kids and their parents. The LiVe website, www.svmh.com/live, contains helpful materials for parents and children, as well as fun games that teach kids about living a healthy lifestyle. Brochures and information can be downloaded and printed directly from the website.

Because health providers play a vital role in helping kids and their parents with this issue, the campaign provides pediatricians, family physicians, and other medical personnel with new tools and health education materials to share with their patients. The public service program is offered in both English and Spanish, entitled ViVe.

Tens of thousands of area children are at risk of living shorter, less healthy lives than their parents. While the reasons for an increase in unfit children are complex, two main factors have greatly contributed to the problem: A lack of activity and unhealthy eating habits.

"LiVe will encourage kids to spend less time with game systems and computers," says Olivas. "It will teach them to think about what they eat and to not be sedentary. The medical community can lead this effort and make a real difference. By coordinating with children, parents, schools, and the medical community, we can reverse the direction this crisis is heading."

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