Los Angeles County adults have gained an average of 6 pounds each over the past eight years – for a total of 44 million pounds – increasing the risk of contracting life-threatening illnesses, says a study released today by the health department. At the current rate of weight gain, the study predicted that 25 percent – or of every four adults in the county – will be obese by 2010 and that the effects may start to decrease life expectancy by two to five years. “This could reduce two centuries of increases in life expectancy,” said Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, the county health officer. “We need to stop this terrible epidemic. And we haven’t seen the worst of it because of the lag time. “This translates into big increases in diabetes, heart disease, stroke, muscular-skeletal problems and maybe an increase in some cancers.” Building on advances in providing LAUSD students with healthier vending-machine beverages and snacks, officials are working on increasing the amount of physical activity and health education in the schools. “There are state mandates around physical education in the schools, but whether they are really followed, I don’t know,” said Dr. Francine Kaufman, director of the Comprehensive Childhood Diabetes Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “There are also mandates on what is taught in health classes. The question is, who is delivering those messages and are we really turning out children with health literacy?” Health experts note a variety of factors behind the obesity epidemic, including more sedentary lifestyles, more opportunities to eat and a lack of food labeling at restaurants. “You can’t walk 20 yards without a snacking opportunity,” Fielding said. “We have gotten into patterns of consuming portions that are not healthful. “All-you-can-eat is not in the interest of your health.” Troy Anderson, (213) 974-8985 email@example.com To help fight obesity, health officials recommend: 30 to 60 minutes of daily moderate physical activity such as walking, swimming, biking, dancing or gardening. A healthy breakfast. Parents eating meals with their children. Reading food labels and buying foods that are low in fat, cholesterol and salt and high in fiber. Drinking less soda and high-sugar juice drinks. Limiting television and video games to less than two hours a day and avoiding eating in front of the TV. Eating two cups of fruit, 2 cups of vegetables and three servings of whole grain each day. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card Obesity rates were also found to be increasing faster among some groups than others. An estimated 29 percent of Latino adults is obese, compared with 28 percent of African-Americans, 17 percent of whites and 6 percent of Asians. Of even greater concern, officials said, is a finding that the percentage of overweight middle school children rose from 18 percent in 1999 to nearly 22 percent in 2003. “If this trend continues, then one out of three kids could be overweight by 2010,” Fielding said. “We’re robbing our children of bright futures if we don’t focus on stopping this and reversing it. We are setting them up for so many problems later in life.” The county Department of Health Services is joining today with the city and Los Angeles Unified School District officials in a Leadership for Healthy Living Forum in Elysian Park designed to address the issue and develop possible solutions.