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In an effort to raise awareness and inform community members of the alarming childhood obesity rates, Boyle Heights Beat organized a community forum earlier this month at the Boyle Heights Technology Youth Center.

Say No To Obesity brought together community members, BHB youth reporters, who served as moderators and translators, and panelists, including Megan Lipton-Inga, director of Kids N’ Fitness at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Families discussed various challenges to making healthier choices, including limited health education, conflicting work schedules, and a lack of accessibility to fresh and affordable produce.

Sharon Onofre, a young girl, who along with her family, have joined the Solutions & Treatments in Obesity Management & Prevention (STOMP) program though AltaMed, shared her experience. Onofre was featured in the print edition of Boyle Heights Beat, where youth reporter Dulce Morales wrote, “32 percent of children in Boyle Heights were obese in 2010, the second highest level in Los Angeles.”

Onofre explained how she went from being bullied about her weight to feeling strong and proud through exercise and making healthier food choices.

The audience participated in a group exercise activity and had the opportunity to win raffle prizes from panelists and organizations present, including the Weingart-East LA YMCA and Arctic Hotspot Café.

“Taking it one step at a time is a lesson everyone can apply, no matter what your level of health is,” said Boyle Heights Beat youth reporter Brizette Castellanos.

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