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Fellowship project: Childhood obesity, nutrition and food in the Los Angeles area

Fellowship project: Childhood obesity, nutrition and food in the Los Angeles area

Picture of Melissa Pamer

My colleague Michelle Valles and I plan a unique online-broadcast collaboration that we'll begin to realize through the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship this month.

Working as a team for NBC4 Southern California, we'll take on a hot topic that we want to humanize: childhood obesity.

In “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future,” a report released in September, researchers declared: “’s children may be the first in U.S. history to live shorter, less healthy lives than their parents.” That urgent warning will motivate and be emphasized in our reporting.

Specifically, our focus will be a cluster of largely Latino cities in the Los Angeles region that are struggling with childhood obesity and overweight rates of greater than 45 percent, well above county, state and national averages.

Telling the story of childhood obesity through these communities – via individuals' stories, not just through data – will put a face on a public health epidemic that disproportionately affects impoverished areas.

While we will acknowledge the enormous roles that physical activity and access to green space play in combating obesity, we believe a focus on food lets us be more personal in our storytelling and more intimate with our subjects.

We hope our stories – both on air and posted on a soon-to-be-created special section on – will help some families begin to discuss food and nutrition in new and healthy ways.

Image of a Los Angeles-area farmer's market by K Lachshand via Flickr


The Center for Health Journalism’s 2023 National Fellowship will provide $2,000 to $10,000 reporting grants, five months of mentoring from a veteran journalist, and a week of intensive training at USC Annenberg in Los Angeles from July 16-20. Click here for more information and the application form, due May 5.

The Center for Health Journalism’s 2023 Symposium on Domestic Violence provides reporters with a roadmap for covering this public health epidemic with nuance and sensitivity. The next session will be offered virtually on Friday, March 31. Journalists attending the symposium will be eligible to apply for a reporting grant of $2,000 to $10,000 from our Domestic Violence Impact Reporting Fund. Find more info here!


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