Salud America working to combat obesity among Latino children
Obesity causes more than 15 percent of this country’s preventable deaths more than alcohol, toxins, care accidents, gun-related deaths, drug abuse and STDs combined and it causes a huge financial strain on the health care system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity affects approximately 34 percent of adults and 17 percent of children in the United States. The agency recently estimated the costs of obesity at almost $150 billion per year, attributable to the impact of obesity on other chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
The obesity statistics for young Latinos are particularly frightening. Mexican American children ages 2 to 19 are more likely to be obese or overweight (40.8 percent) than white (31.9 percent) and African American (30 percent) children. Among preschoolers, nearly one out of every four Latinos is overweight. Studies show that Latino children’s diets are less healthy, their access to healthy foods is more limited, they are less active in organized sports and they watch more television.
But I don’t even need these statistics. All I have to do is visit my grandchild’s school, see Latino families shopping in stores or look outside at empty playgrounds. You and I can “see” the childhood obesity epidemic in predominantly Latino regions.
In Texas and across the nation, half of Latinos born today will develop diabetes. This disturbing statistic sometimes causes me to wonder if this will be the first generation where parents outlive their children. We can’t afford to let that happen. That’s why efforts to reduce and prevent childhood obesity are so critically important, and that’s why Salud America, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Research Network to Prevent Obesity among Latino Children, created a national network of more than 1,800 researchers, community leaders, policymakers and other stakeholders. The network works to increase the number of researchers and advocates seeking environmental and policy solutions to address Latino childhood obesity.
Read the full story at the Statesman.com