The County of Los Angeles launched an obesity awareness campaign titled “Choose Less, Weigh Less” Thursday to encourage residents to lower the amount of calories they consume in each meal.

New data reveals the adult obesity rate continuing to rise within the county, with Latinos showing the largest increase.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s first-ever portion control campaign aims to increase awareness of the amount of calories in popular foods, inform residents of daily recommended calorie limits, and educate residents on proper portion sizes and tips for healthier eating at restaurants and at home.

The campaign will include advertising on transit shelters, buses, rail cars, billboards, television, radio and online, illustrating how choosing even slightly smaller portions of popular foods can have a dramatic impact on calorie intake.

“A trend towards larger portion sizes has occurred in parallel with the increase in the frequency of overweight and obesity, which has become a leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. and a major contributor to the escalating costs of health care,” said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the county’s top health official.

“Nearly a quarter of all adults in Los Angeles County now suffer from obesity,” he said. “While it’s important to encourage residents to eat healthier foods, the goal of this campaign is to get people to start thinking about how much food they are consuming in each meal. If we can get people to think about that and start eating less, or ordering smaller portions, then we
will be on the right track.”

Coinciding with the public education campaign, Public Health issued new data from the 2011 Los Angeles County Health Survey, showing obesity rates increasing across all demographic groups and in almost every region of the county.

Here are some results:

  • The adult obesity rate has increased 74 percent over the past 14 years, with the percentage of obese adults steadily increasing from 13.6 percent in 1997 to 23.6 percent in 2011;
  • Obesity rates have increased more dramatically among younger adults than older adults. Among those aged 18 to 39, the obesity rate increased 104 percent between 1997 and 2011, while for those 40 years and older the obesity rate increased 49 percent in the same time period; and
  • The increase was larger among Latinos (99 percent) than whites (50 percent) and blacks (43 percent). The largest increase was seen among Asians/Pacific Islanders (141 percent), although the obesity rate was considerably lower in that group (8.9 percent in 2011) than in the other
  • racial/ethnic groups.