LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Health officials Wednesday unveiled a new anti-obesity campaign aimed at pushing parents in Los Angeles County to drop sodas and other sugary drinks from family snacks and mealtimes.

“Water: The Healthiest Choice” is a new multilingual campaign that comes just days after the release of a national study finding that despite a drop in the obesity rate, California still leads the country in obesity among children between the ages of 2 and 4.

Despite a drop in childhood obesity rates statewide, many young children remain overweight and at severe risk for obesity and Type 2 diabetes, also known as adult onset diabetes, according to organizers.

Dr. Paul Simon, who heads the county Public Health Department’s Division of Chronic Disease and Injury, told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO roughly one in five kids in the 3-to-4-year-old age range in L.A. County is already in the obese category.

“That’s really cause for great concern because it sort of sets kids up for a variety of potential health problems as they progress through childhood and into adulthood,” Simon said.

Billboards and bus shelters will carry campaign messaging also urging parents not to substitute juice, which is often a less-than-healthy alternative because of added sugar.

Instead, parents should be reaching for whole fruit or adding cut fruit to a glass of water, Simon suggested.

CBS2’s  Amber Lee said in addition to no sodas and more water, health officials are also asking parents to limit fruit juices and exercise as a family.

Los Angeles resident Virginia Parks-Woods does exactly that.

“Every night about 6 o’clock, after dinner. the park is right around the corner from our house and we just go walking,” says Parks-Woods. “Just start off slowly. We weren’t expecting results overnight.”

The media campaign is funded through a grant from First 5 LA.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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