First 5 California – Staggering Sugar Consumption Unmasked

First 5 California, Westfield Partner to Reduce Childhood Obesity

LOS ANGELES, CA—(Marketwire - October 29, 2007) – This Halloween parents of preschoolers should be spooked by recent findings that their child is eating 60 percent more than their body weight in sugar. First 5 California today called attention to these findings as part of a kick-off event announcing its new partnership with Westfield, one of the world’s largest mall operators, to help curb the growing obesity problem. As a first step, Westfield will hand out First 5 California temporary tattoos at concierge centers during trick-or-treat events at participating Westfield shopping centers across California.

“While there are many causes of childhood obesity, today we are raising awareness of a major culprit — eating too much sugar,” said Kris Perry, executive director of First 5 California. “Partnering with Westfield will go a long way in helping First 5 California spread our messages on the importance of good nutrition and physical activity in a setting that is familiar and family friendly.”

According to a January 2005 study in the Journal of Pediatrics, the average 4- to 5-year-old consumes 17 teaspoons of added sugar a day, which amounts to approximately 64.6 pounds of added sugar a year. The majority of a child’s added sugar intake comes from fruit drinks, high-fat desserts, soft drinks and candy.

Currently, one in three children in California is overweight or at risk of becoming overweight, regardless of age, race or gender. Recent research suggests infants and children who are overweight at any point are more likely to remain overweight and even become obese by age 12. If left unchecked, obesity can lead to serious health problems, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.

As a result of the growing obesity problem, the current generation of children may have shorter life expectancies than their parents.

“We believe so strongly in the importance of this initiative, that Westfield is providing in-kind marketing and outreach opportunities valued at more than $1 million to help First 5 California educate families on how to address this issue,” said Katy Dickey, Westfield’s executive vice president of corporate communications. “We know our shopping centers in California are effective places to market products, but now they also play a key role in reaching out, educating and informing our customers.”

In the coming months, Westfield shopping centers will have First 5 California brochures and signage designed to help parents better understand ways to reduce the risk of obesity in their children.

First 5 California’s collaboration with Westfield is part of the First 5 F.A.N. Club, a partnership between First 5 California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Get Healthy California! and corporations such as Westfield. The program was created to educate the public about the importance of good nutrition and physical activity for children 0 to 5 in order to help curb the obesity epidemic.

The First 5 F.A.N. Club is the newest addition to First 5 California’s ongoing comprehensive childhood obesity prevention and awareness campaign. Other campaign efforts include hard-hitting television, radio and billboard advertisements that have received national media attention; the first-ever public education campaign targeting childhood obesity in the Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) community; and First 5 California’s interactive “Hands-On Health” mobile exhibit which has traveled to nearly 100 cities across California to raise awareness of the health risks children face in their first five years.

Early next year, First 5 California will join forces with renowned Mexican-American Chef Laura Diaz – known by her fans as Chef LaLa – to launch a recipe booklet with tips on nutrition for families with young children.

About First 5 California
First 5 California, also known as the California Children and Families Commission, was established after voters passed Proposition 10 in November 1998, adding a 50 cents-per-pack tax on cigarettes to fund education, health, childcare and other programs for expectant parents and children up to age 5. For more information please visit