Water and the Health of Latino Kids

By Cliff Despres

Did you know Mexican-American kids drink less plain water than white kids?

They also are more likely to perceive tap water as unsafe?

In fact, negative perceptions of school water fountains were associated with sugary drink intake among Latino kids, according to new Sugary Drinks and Latino Kids research from Salud America!, an obesity prevention network under Dr. Amelie Ramirez at UT Health San Antonio.

What changes can promote water?

latino kids water sugary drinksWhen New York elementary and middle schools replaced vending machines with water jets, students’ likelihood of being overweight dropped 0.9 percentage points among boys and 0.6 points among girls.

Also, kids would consume 205 fewer calories a day by replacing sugary drink consumption with low-fat milk at meals and water between meals.

What else might work?

The new research has two big recommendations to push water:

Early childcare centers should consider best practices from the revised Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) guidelines, such as promoting water and avoiding serving sugar-sweetened beverages.

Also, policies to lower the price of healthier beverages relative to sugary drinks are also likely to reduce sugary drink consumption and potentially improve weight outcomes.

What can you do?

gaby medina latina mom in coloradoFollow the footsteps of Gaby Medina.

Like many parents, Medina, a mom from Denver, was initially weary of serving tap water to her 10-year-old daughter. Having grown up in Mexico where the water is not always safe to drink, she was concerned about the quality of Denver’s tap water.

After volunteering with a local community organization Westwood Unidos and learning from her dentist that tap water can promote healthy teeth, Medina was encouraged to spread the word about drinking water instead of juices and sodas to her peers.

This was especially important to Medina because Latino kindergartners were more likely to have untreated tooth decay and so many parents relied on sugary drinks. If a child does not like to drink water Medina recommends that parents add ice and fruit to the water.

Small changes can make a huge difference.

“Many parents don’t know how to take care of their kids’ teeth, and with this campaign, I am helping them learn, this is what motivates me to work,” Medina said.

Go here for more ideas to promote water for Latino kids.

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