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Getting to the root of why so many Latino children are out of shape and gordo

LatinaLista — A landmark study released by the American Journal of Public Health just days before the close of 2006 revealed an alarming trend: Latino pre-schoolers are twice as likely as white or black children to be overweight or obese.
The researchers couldn’t explain it, but two Latinas may very well hold the answer in their book “Gordito Doesn’t Mean Healthy: What Every Latina Mother Needs to Know to Raise Fit, Happy, Healthy Kids.”
For as long as anyone can remember, being gordo or chubby has been a sign of health in the Hispanic culture. Parents knew their children were getting enough to eat if no bones were showing. Yet, what has developed over the years is less a sign of healthy eating than a rise in scary statistics.

Authors Claudia Gonzalez and Lourdes Alcañiz report that six out of every ten obese Latino children are afflicted with Type 2 diabetes, most likely suffer orthopedic problems and could possibly have psychological difficulties because they’re the butt of jokes from their friends.
Gonzalez and Alcañiz take Latino parents on a step-by-step journey that includes understanding the cultural, social and genetic factors that make our children so overweight.
From Latino children being born already predisposed to becoming overweight to such social implications as not having health insurance or getting enough exercise, it would seem that being overweight is the destiny of every Hispanic child in the United States.
But, according to the book’s authors, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Striving to reeducate Latino parents on what foods and practices are healthy for children from the womb to young adult, the book mixes cultural insight (letting abuela know that overfeeding a baby is not good) and practical advice.
Whether it’s how to recognize, talk and treat obese children to learning which kinds of foods are healthy and in what amounts for each age child, the authors outline in easy-to-understand language the proper course of action for parents.
The book also serves as a helpful resource on how to recognize common medical and psychological problems associated with food. Ranging from diabetes and anorexia to low self-esteem and poor body image, the book is a necessary guide for any parent who wants their children to be healthy emotionally and physically.

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