Around Town: Is La Cañada Fat City?

Last week, both the L.A. Weekly and the local Patch quoted research from the California Center for Public Health Advocacy and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research showing that 22.3% of La Cañada Flintridge children are obese. A few days later, Jay Leno, the source of all non-metrics-based wisdom, quipped that Apple has announced the release of the world's thinnest laptop. Isn't this ironic? Laptops are getting thinner and kids are getting fatter.

The top-ranked local city for childhood obesity was Huntington Park, at a whopping 53%, followed by Compton, at 50.8%. La Cañada ranks near the bottom on the obesity scale. La Cañada beat Santa Monica (23%), but lost to South Pasadena (21.8%), Beverly Hills (21.5%) and Manhattan Beach (11%).

Alas, San Marino was unranked.

But Mission Viejo (25.1%), which had a higher obesity rate than La Canada, announced that it is a success because the state of California (33.3%) rate is higher. Mission Viejo has installed free exercise equipment in its parks.

How can 22.3% of La Cañada children be obese, given a robust local youth sports environment?

La Cañada is home to Sport Chalet, the La Cañada Baseball and Softball Assn., the La Cañada Baseball Club, the Spartan Basketball leagues, the Foothill Hoops, the American Roundball Corporation (“ARC”), the Hoop Rats, Play Smarter Basketball Clinics, the Spartan Basketball Camp, the SpartanAllStars Basketball Camp, the La Cañada Gladiators, AYSO, Arroyo United Soccer Club, the Flyers Soccer Club, La Cañada Girls Lacrosse, the Foothill Volleyball Camp, the YMCA and various private golf, tennis and riding clubs.

With a plethora of youth sports activities, why does La Cañada have a 22.3% childhood obesity rate?

Bodybuilder Scooby Werkstatt notes, “America is fat because our nutrition is bad, and we are sedentary.”

And he adds, “We … are loving our kids to death. It starts with baby strollers. What's wrong with a baby stroller? It starts a lifelong trend of inactivity. Heck, why walk, when if you just make a little fuss, your parents will push you around like a pharaoh?”

In an age of metrics, here's a fact-based anecdote. Spend a week in Paris or Rome, take public transportation, sightsee and visit museums, you can eat whatever you want. At the end of the week, you will have lost weight. Try this in London, where the food is abysmal, and you will gain weight.

Perhaps the answer, noted by the L.A. Weekly, lies in “the recent Seattle Children's Hospital study on neighborhood walkability, showing that childhood obesity rates plunged in towns ‘where physical activity and nutrition environments were positive.'”

Isn't La Cañada walkable? Why can't La Cañada, like Mission Viejo, treat these stats as a success story?

What do you think? Send your suggestions in a letter to my editor, Carol Cormaci, at

ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. Email her at and follow her on Twitter @anitabrenner.

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