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Representatives of First 5 San Diego, along with county supervisor Ron Roberts, appeared at the Vons grocery store in Mission Hills along with store executives today (July 10) to launch the organization’s new Healthy Eating Initiative, aimed at introducing kids to healthy foods at a young age, when their tastes and lifelong habits are forming.

“We’re trying to drive the message that healthy eating is important from day one,” said Roberts, standing in the store’s produce section. “We know we’ve been working with a nationwide epidemic of obesity with our young kids. The good news is that in San Diego we started working on this about 10 years ago, and we’ve seen a decrease in obesity rates.”

As part of the Initiative’s partnership with Vons, the grocer’s 58 locations throughout San Diego will feature a First 5 “seal of approval” on products ideal for young children, along with in-store flyers on healthy eating choices for families, including teaching portion control and substituting water for juices which, though better than sodas, are still high in sugar and calories.

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“We want to encourage families to use grocery shopping as a time to talk with children about healthy eating,” said First 5 executive director Kimberly Medeiros. “Let kids pick out fruits and vegetables, make it a fun activity . . . the earlier you introduce new fruits and vegetables, the more likely they are as adults to carry on with those good eating habits.”

The agency is pushing what they call a “5/2/1/0 model” – five servings of fruits or vegetables a day, no more than two hours of time spent in front of a television or computer screen, at least one hour of physical activity, and zero sodas consumed.

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