Being a Hispanic mother of a low-income status, I am worried about the well-being of my two children and that of my fellow Hispanic population in my community. Though my own children are of a healthy weight and height for their age, I have noticed that the children in their school, in church and around our neighborhood are either overweight or obese. This is startling because research shows these facts as follows:
– According to a study from National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality done in 2007, showed that 32.9% of New York children ages 10-17 are considered either overweight or obese by the state.
– 45.1% of the overweight or obese children in New York are of Hispanic origin.
– According to the CDC, childhood obesity leads to a greater risk of diabetes, higher blood pressure levels, high cholesterol, high glucose intolerance, increase heart rate and cardiac output.
– Latinos are the fastest growing population in the United States — it is estimated that nearly one in three children will be Latino by 2030.
– Inequities in access to healthcare, the quality of care received and opportunities to make healthy choices where people live, learn, work and play all contribute to the rates of obesity being higher for Latino adults and children compared to Whites. Also contributing to the higher rates of obesity is the fact that Latino communities experience higher rates of hunger and food insecurity, limited access to safe places to be physically active and targeted marketing of less nutritious foods.
– Nearly one in four Latino households are considered food insecure. A number of studies have shown that when Latino families do not have enough money for everyone to eat full and nutritious meals, there is an increased risk of obesity, particularly among the children in the household. Latino children consume higher amounts of sugar-sweetened beverages than other children.
– Low-income Latino families spend about one-third of their income on food, and much of the food purchased is calorie-dense, low in fiber and high in fat, sodium and carbohydrates.
– Lack of access to healthy foods in neighborhoods is also a problem. Greater accessibility to supermarkets is consistently linked to decreased rates of overweight and obesity. Studies have found that there is less access to supermarkets and nutritious, fresh foods in many urban and lower-income neighborhoods and less healthy items are also often more heavily marketed at the point-of-purchase through product placement in these stores.17,18 Latino neighborhoods have one-third the number of supermarkets as non-Latino neighborhoods.19 According to the 2013 YRBS, 9.3 percent of Latino youths did not eat vegetables during the prior week, compared to 4.5 percent of White youths.
So, what should we as parents do to keep our children from being another statistic within the overweight and obese column?
- If you are the parent that does the main groceries, you have to make changes in what you buy. BUY GREEN. Choose to buy healthier foods instead of sugary and processed foods or food with high-fat content.
- Change the way you cook. Instead of frying the “chuleta” or “pollo” (pork chop or chicken), broil it, steam it or even better, grill it. It is not only delicious, but healthier than frying.
- Portion Control! Don’t over-feed your children.
- Don’t bring home the sodas. Leave them in the supermarket or store. Buy WATER-it should become your best friend!
- Opt for making healthy juices at home using fresh spinach, strawberries, blueberries, banana and orange juice. Trust me, your kids will love it!
- Be more active with your children. Zumba in your living room or if you don’t want to buy the program…just turn the radio on and dance salsa, merengue or cumbia with your kids for an hour. It’s fun and you’ll be bonding with them.
- When the weather is nice, go to the park and be active, play ball or ride your bike along with your children.
- Visit http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/HealthierKids/Healthier-Kids_UCM_304156_SubHomePage.jsp
National Council of La Raza. Profiles of Latino Health: A Closer Look at Latino Child Nutrition, Issue 5: The Links Between Food Insecurity and Latino Child Obesity, 2010.
Bridging the Gap and Salud America! Sugar Drinks and Latino Kids, Issue Brief September 2013 (accessed March 2014).
Wilson TA, Adolph AL, Butte NF. Nutrient adequacy and diet quality in non-overweight and overweight Hispanic children of low socioeconomic status: the Viva la Familia Study. J Am Diet Assoc., 109(6): 1012-1021, 2009.
Cortes DE. Improving Food Purchasing Selection Among Low-Income Spanish-Speaking Latinos. Salud America!, 2011 (accessed May 2014).
Economic Research Service (ERS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Food Access Research Atlas (accessed June 2013).
Dahl S, Eagle L, Baez C. Analyzing advergames: Active diversions or actually deception. An exploratory study of online advergames content. Young Consumers, 10(1): 46-59, 2009.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance — United States, 2013. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 63(SS04): 1-168, 2014