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By Tammye McDuff

Hawaiian Gardens, in partnership with Obesity Solutions and Activate Hawaiian Gardens, held the first day-long obesity prevention program at Artesia High School in order to educate students about the realities of obesity and a fast food diet.  The program used a power point presentation about the ingredients of fast food diets and how students can correctly read the labeling. Activate Hawaiian Gardens began with elementary school students and their parents, and is now engaging area high schools. The City’s anti-obesity campaign has been recognized as one of the best obesity reducing programs in the nation by First Lady Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move! campaign.’

California’s adult obesity rate is currently 24.7 percent, up from 18.7 percent in 2000. Childhood Obesity in California under four years of age is 16.8% and for 10 to 17 year olds, Better Policies for a Healthier America states the percentage has risen to over 15%.

Obesity Solutions [OS] has partnered with the Mayo Clinic and Arizona State University to combine their talent, energy and financial support to make a difference. Working with communities across the Nation, OS identifies, tests, and programs solutions to obesity that work in the real world.

OS looks for simple solutions with long term results. They work with school districts to focus on those areas that will make it easier for students to be active and eat well as they go about their normal routines – where they live, learn, work, and play. OS designs the workplace of teachers, the classrooms and libraries using new technologies and repurposing older ones. “We are rethinking how to support weight-loss goals for a lifetime, while managing any chronic illness like diabetes or heart disease,” says Alexander Khananashvilli, Founder and CEO.

Khananashvilli was a medical doctor in the Soviet Union. While in Russia, he was a big fan of McDonald’s, noting he would stand in line for hours waiting to order.

“Many of my colleagues, who would visit America,” stated Khananashvilli, “came back and commented on how large Americans were.” In 1999 Khananashvilli immigrated to the United States and was shocked on the how many people were overweight, “This is not a hard problem to solve. There are clear steps to stop obesity.” In 2013, John Hopkins University published an 800 page document giving the medical community a step-by-step plan to reduce the obesity concern, “…and this document clearly noted that many of the illnesses and diseases that plague the American people, could be reduced just by decreasing this issue.”

Right now, obesity rates continue to rise globally. Through continuing education, and training the next generation and properly schooling health care providers, OS is striving to equip local leaders with the skills to solve this complex problem. “By seeding and supporting diverse teams of collaborators we find new ways to think around and through this problem,” said Khananashvilli “We need to educate the kids, then we can educate the family and this way we reach the entire community.”