Last week in San Antonio, the 4th Annual Salud America! Summit brought together experts from around the country to discuss the latest advancements to reduce and prevent Latino childhood obesity.
Learn more in this Univision video news report by Monica Navarro about Salud America!, a national research network funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and directed by the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.
The video features Salud America! director Dr. Amelie Ramirez.
A growing body of mortality research on immigrants has shown that the longer they live in the United States, the worse their rates of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, according to a New York Times report.
According to the report:
For Hispanics, now the nation’s largest immigrant group, the foreign-born live about three years longer than their American-born counterparts, several studies have found.
Why does life in the United States — despite its sophisticated health care system and high per capita wages — lead to worse health? New research is showing that the immigrant advantage wears off with the adoption of American behaviors — smoking, drinking, high-calorie diets and sedentary lifestyles.
Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, director of the Salud America! Latino childhood obesity network based at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, was quoted in the report about the problem of Hispanics’ high obesity rates:
“We have a time bomb that’s going to go off. Obesity rates are increasing. Diabetes is exploding. The cultural protection Hispanics had is being eroded.”
Latino students are widely exposed to high-fat, high-sugar snacks and drinks sold in schools, but implementing stronger nutritional standards can yield healthier school snacks for this growing population at high risk of obesity, according to a new package of research materials released today by Salud America! The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Research Network to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Children.
The new Salud America! “Healthier School Snacks & Latino Kids” research materials, which can be found at www.salud-america.org, include:
• A research review with the latest science;
• An issue brief (lay summary of the review);
• An infographic; and
• An animated video
This is the first of six new research material packages to be released over the summer by Salud America!, each of which will focus on a specific topic on Latino childhood obesity and highlight the issue, policy implications and future research areas.
The “Healthier School Snacks & Latino Kids” package, released at the Salud America! Summit, highlights the fact that young people consume a high proportion of their daily calories at school.
“Research shows that access to unhealthy snack foods and beverages in schools has a disproportionately negative health influence among Latino students, and schools with a higher proportion of Latino students tend to have weaker policies regarding access to and nutritional values of these items,” said Amelie G. Ramirez, director of Salud America!, a national network of stakeholders seeking environmental and policy solutions to Latino obesity based at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.
“By 2050, 35 percent of young people in the U.S. will be Latino. Providing healthier school snacks and drinks can help make sure this growing population is healthy,” Ramirez said.
To learn more, visit www.salud-america.org.
A record 69% of Hispanic high school graduates in the class of 2012 enrolled in college that fall, two percentage points higher than the rate (67%) among their white counterparts, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Hispanic college-going has increased since 2008.
White college-going has decreased over that same span.
But the new isn’t all good.
According to the report: “Hispanic college students are less likely than their white counterparts to enroll in a four-year college (56% versus 72%), they are less likely to attend a selective college, less likely to be enrolled in college full time, and less likely to complete a bachelor’s degree.”
Why the trend?
The report speculates that higher unemployment among Latinos ages 16-24 may have led that population segment to make college a more viable choice or to stay in school longer. It also speculates that Latino families place higher value on college education, with one survey even showing that 88% of Latinos ages 16 and older agreed that college is needed to “get ahead in life,” compared with just 74% of whites who thought the same.
Among companies that pledged to reform their child-directed advertising practices to encourage healthier choices, 78 percent of ads for children on Spanish-language television and 69 percent of ads for children on English-language television were for unhealthy foods or drinks.
The study, “Food Marketing to Children on U.S. Spanish-Language Television,” is the first large-scale effort to analyze food and beverage advertising on Spanish-language children’s television. It was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through its Healthy Eating Research program.
“All children, and especially Latinos, are bombarded with television ads that sell junk food and sugary drinks,” said Dale Kunkel of the University of Arizona at Tucson and the lead author of the study. “These findings are particularly concerning given the high rates of obesity among Latino youths.”
Kunkel and his colleagues analyzed the ad content for 158 Spanish-language television shows for children and compared them with those found on 139 English-language programs. The ads analyzed for the study were collected between February and April 2009.
The majority of child-directed ads (84% on Spanish shows and 74% on English shows) promoted Whoa products, such as candy, sugary cereals, fries, and sodas, which fall into the poorest nutritional category as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Whoa products are high in calories, fat, and/or added sugar. The DHHS recommends very limited consumption of such items.
Other key study findings:
- Fast-food commercials accounted for nearly half (46%) of all child-targeted food advertising on Spanish-language television.
- More than three-quarters (78%) of all Spanish-language food ads used popular cartoon characters to market Whoa products. The same was true for 49 percent of English-language ads.
- Ads for healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, were extremely rare, accounting for just 1 percent or fewer of all ads in either language.
“Our findings suggest that the food and beverage industry’s pledge to self-regulate is not effective, especially on Spanish-language television,” Kunkel said. “Most of the ads aimed at kids feature Whoa products, so clearly there’s a big gap between the industry’s definition of healthy and what nutrition experts say.”
Two new Spanish-language videos show healthier lifestyles, one promoting family activities, such as a father showing his daughter he can dance, and another showing a family having a healthy foods taste test.
The videos aim to challenge children to engage in healthier lifestyles.
Both videos were made possible by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and presented by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.