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Study says not enough home-cooked meals underlying cause for Latino child obesity

LatinaLista — For most Latino families, it used to be that eating cheaply meant eating a homemade meal made from the basic Latino food groups — corn, rice and beans. Yet, thanks to a new study from the University of Illinois at Chicago, eating cheap has become synonymous with fast-food and it’s making our kids not just fat, but obese. It’s also not helping the waistlines of everyone else in the family either.

There’s a reason why fast-food is inexpensive. In fast-food, children, who were the focus of the study by researchers at the university’s Health Policy Center of the Institute for Health Research and Policy, found that:

…eating out meant getting 13 percent more sugar, 22 percent more total fat, 25 percent more saturated fat and 17 percent more salt than what is recommended.

The researchers found that the problem is particularly acute among poor families because fast-food affords low-income families a way to eat out, get a lot of food for an affordable price plus get free refills on sugary soda drinks.

Even with the FDA requiring most restaurants to list the calorie counts on their menus and the American Beverage Association starting a new program next year called Calories Count Vending Program, not to mention the public outcry to downsize portions, fast food restaurants still make eating healthy a difficult task, especially for children.

The main solution for combatting childhood obesity, according to the researchers, is for families to start cooking at home again.

“It’s no wonder kids are gaining weight and suffering from adult diseases such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. We need to encourage people to cook at home more often and dispel the myth that eating at home is more expensive than eating out,” said Samantha Heller, an exercise physiologist and clinical nutrition coordinator at the Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn.

While buying more healthy products can add to the overall grocery bill, it’s no comparison with the high costs of medications to treat diabetes or high blood pressure — and for that, children will one day, probably not today or next week, but one day will thank their parents for making that sacrifice of passing the neighborhood fast-food places to eat meals that won’t make them have a lower quality of life in the future.

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