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Why obesity continues to plague Latino population (and what you can do about It)


U.S. adult obesity rates remained mostly steady―but high―this past year, although Latino adults and children continue to suffer higher rates than whites, according to a new report by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

The report found that adult obesity rates increased in six states and remained stable in the rest.

“Stabilizing rates is an accomplishment. However, given the continued high rates, it isn’t time to celebrate” because obesity increases the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, said Dr. Jeffrey Levi of TFAH. “We’ve learned that if we invest in effective programs, we can see signs of progress. But, we still haven’t invested enough to really tip the scales yet.”

Obesity continues to hit hardest among Latinos.

According to the report, adult obesity rates were 26% higher among Latinos than whites (42.5% to 32.6%), and the Latino childhood obesity rate is higher, too (22.5% to 14.1%). Rates are especially high among Latino preschoolers (18.7%) than whites (12.7%).

Why? The answer is complex.

Latinos are a top target of unhealthy food marketing, tend to live in neighborhoods with less access to affordable healthy foods and less recreational facilities, have higher food insecurity rates, have lower rates of physical activity, have higher exposure to unhealthy foods and drinks in schools and out, and other factors.

Prevention is key, as well as increasing healthy communities.

To make a difference, visit the Salud America! website to look at exactly what’s going on in your neighborhood to fight Latino obesity, and learn how real people took small steps to make big changes in their schools and communities.

For example, students pushed for healthier lunches in Texas and spoke against sugary drinks in California.

“We urge parents, teachers, and community leaders to visit our website and learn that small steps can be taken to make healthy changes for Latino children—that’s how we make progress happen,” said Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, director of Salud America! and the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. “This can help build a culture of health for all people.”

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