One in three Americans born today is predicted to develop diabetes as a consequence of obesity

One in three Americans born today is predicted to develop diabetes as a consequence of obesity, according to a new report by the International Diabetes Federation and the International Obesity Task Force.

This is one of the many trends that will be addressed at next week's summit, "Taking Back the Food System: Organizing for Food Justice in California," at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. The June 10-11 conference is expected to draw more than 200 attendees from around the state.

"The rising rates of obesity and diabetes is as much a food system problem as a health problem in California," stated Heather Fenney, an organizer with the California Food and Justice Coalition (CFJC). "Thanks to our small farmers we are rich with fruits and vegetables, and healthy foods to fight these diseases. The problem is that communities don't have access to these foods, and our children are suffering because of it."

The Southern California-based CFJC, which represents dozens of statewide policy groups, has been one of the most vocal advocates of "community food security," a new buzzword in policy circles that addresses the interconnection between agriculture, health, hunger and poverty.

"Community food security is the access of individuals and communities to fresh, healthy staple foods from relatively close to home at an affordable cost, " said Katy Mamen, local food program coordinator of The International Society for Ecology and Culture.

Recent research shows that:

  • Roughly 2.5 million children in the U.S. don't know where their next meal is coming from
  • In low-income communities, more than 40 percent of all children suffer from hunger and food insecurity
  • The percentage of overweight adolescents 12-19 years of age) increased from 5 percent in 1970 to 14 percent in 1999
  • Ironically, the state's most agriculturally rich regions (Tulare and Fresno counties) have the highest rate of food insecurity

"The future of California depends on proactively dealing with the issues of obesity, diabetes and childhood nutrition," said State Senator Deborah Ortiz, who has a history of supporting legislation involving healthy food in schools. "This summit is an important step toward creating solutions for this health epidemic."

The summit will bring together individuals and organizations that are working to promote sustainable agriculture and environmental justice, improve public health, end hunger, and advance social justice. Activities include a keynote address by Anuradha Mittal, director of The Oakland Institute, and various round tables and policy discussions.

"We are advocating for food system solutions that promote the production of healthy foods and ensure that food gets to the people who need it most," Fenney said.

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