Fresno battles fat
Childhood obesity in the San Joaquin Valley

About this project

The term "obesity epidemic" is often in the news these days. For residents of Fresno County, in the heart of the health-challenged San Joaquin Valley, that issue hits particularly close to home. About 36 percent of adolescents, ages 12 - 17, are overweight or obese. Their parents fare even worse -- fifty-seven percent of the county's adults are overweight or obese. This project includes two radio stories produced for Valley Public Radio. The first focuses on an obese teenager who says his diabetes diagnosis saved his life. The second radio piece looks at obesity prevention in Fresno. Among the voices is a nutrition educator, who is overweight herself. She is struggling to get healthier alongside her students. The project includes a Center-organized expert panel on obesity education, prevention and policy, featured on Valley Public Radio's Quality of Life program.


Experts discuss childhood obesity

In conjunction with our report on childhood obesity in Fresno County, the Center helped organize an on-air discussion about childhood obesity in the San Joaquin Valley. Following Lauren Whaley’s report, Quality of Life show host Joe Moore spoke with...

Valley Public Radio: Fresno teen finds hope in diagnosis

When Victor Ycong was diagnosed with diabetes, he thought his life was over. At 6-foot-1 and 228 pounds, the 15-year-old Fresno teenager was already at risk for a slew of diseases associated with being obese. But, he says, his diabetes diagnosis...

Obesity Education: One Woman's Lessons

Last month, new data came out ranking California as the 12th skinniest state in the union. But, you wouldn't know it living in the San Joaquin Valley, where one in three people is obese and therefore at risk for a slew of diseases, including...

Valley Edition: Obesity Education in the San Joaquin Valley

Following reporter Lauren Whaley's story on obesity education in Fresno, Valley Public Radio hosts an hour-long show on obesity in the San Joaquin Valley. Juanita Stevenson talks with Carrie Swidecki, an obesity advocate and Bakersfield teacher...



Lauren M. Whaley

Lauren M. Whaley

Lauren M. Whaley is a photographer, radio producer and print reporter specializing in topics related to mental illness, reproductive health care and health disparities. She is also a childbirth photographer.

This year, she is working on a series about how low-income parents access care for perinatal mental illnesses. The project is funded by the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism.

Whaley was a 2016-17 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology.

Her work has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists, the Scripps Howard Foundation and the Public Radio Exchange (PRX) STEM story project. She has contributed radio, video, photography and written stories to KQED Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio, the San Jose Mercury News, the New York Times and other media outlets. For six years, I worked as the Center for Health Reporting's multimedia journalist, based in Los Angeles. She is a past president of the national organization Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS) and spent her early 20s leading canoe expeditions for young women, including a solo-led 45-trip in the Canadian Arctic. 

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