"Hi Julian, I'm Alice. Nice to meet you. Come on in and sit down."
Vanessa Osegueda of Fresno has her hands full. She's a young mom of 4-year-old Julian, with another baby on the way. Giving her kids a healthy start is a priority.
She makes monthly visits to the Pinedale WIC office for food vouchers and advice from registered dietician Alice Voluntad.
"For his age group one of the things to keep a child's diet healthy is to follow the portion sizes."
It's a step -- an early step in combating the childhood obesity epidemic.
"The moms and the dads are taught nutrition education, healthy habits how to set a good example for their kids."
Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects. Overweight kids are at greater risk of high cholesterol or high blood pressure. They're more likely to develop diabetes, and poor self esteem.
"We live in an environment that make healthy choices difficult choices."
Fresno county is playing a role in the fight. Dr. Edward Moreno, Director of Public Health is hoping a recently awarded five year federal grant from the CDC, will provide the funding boost for some necessary changes.
"To improve access to fruits and vegetables and improve access to active living for not just kids but people in Fresno County."
Dr. Moreno would like to see weekly farm stands like the one at southeast Fresno's Burrough's Elementary, at all county schools. He'd like to increase access to clean drinking water, and reduce sugary beverages in schools. And provide an outlet for more physical activity.
"The predictions are if things don't change, that obesity increases, continues to increase, and the levels of chronic disease, diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular disease will also increase."
Experts agree. Changes are crucial, and should be considered when developing our public policy.
"'Do you like chocolate milk?' Yeah. 'Do you like cheese?' No."
So kids like Julian have the best shot at growing up healthy, active and strong.
The grant from the CDC is for five years, up to $500,000 a year. The county will convene a panel of health care and county experts to come up with a plan to best use this money. It's hoped the funds will go a long way in solving this problem for our kids. Their lives depend on it.