New Pima County healthy eating campaign launches

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Pima County Health Department kicked off a new campaign Thursday to fight obesity.

It focuses on helping people make healthy choices starting at a young age.

Colorful they may be, but all too often with kids, fruits and veggies lose their appeal.

A new public service campaign, "Healthy Pima," aims to change that.

"We want to increase lifespan, increase quality of life, and decrease costs to taxpayers," said Don Gates from the Pima County Health Dept.

The campaign is part of a nationwide effort initiated by the Centers for Disease Control.

Every year the country spends nearly $150 billion dollars on obesity related health care costs.

"The key element is to make sure that all of our community, from our children to our seniors, in schools and workplaces recognize that they can make healthy choices," said Gates.

One of Healthy Pima's programs is the "Healthy School Zone." Local high schoolers teach children about eating right.

"We want them to know that being healthy is fun and not nasty or anything like they play around," said Desert View High School student Luis Barbosn.

"It feels good because you can get muscles and stuff," said 8-year-old Aiden Rocha.

Another program adds salad bars to school cafeterias.  It's one way to break barriers that prevent people from making healthy choices.

"When children can select the healthy foods that they want, they're more likely to eat them," said  Gates.

"Apples, bananas, mango, pineapple and peaches," said Rocha.

Tiny efforts, but if they can make those fruits and vegetables a little more appetizing.  It will help Southern Arizonans in a big way.

Health Department officials say they're also working to create more community gardens.   By the time the campaign ends in March, there will be more than 30 across Pima County.