LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — With obesity rates continuing to rise in Los Angeles County, officials have launched an awareness campaign to encourage residents to lower the number of calories they consume in each meal.

“Choose Less, Weigh Less” aims at increasing awareness of the amount of calories in popular foods. The campaign will also inform residents of daily recommended calorie limits and educate residents on proper portion sizes and tips for healthier eating at restaurants and at home.

“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.

The 2011 Los Angeles County Health Survey shows obesity rates have increased across all demographic groups and in almost every region of the county.

— 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.

“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.”

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