But these health inequalities are preventable.
A new tool, A Practitioner’s Guide for Advancing Health Equity, can help public health practitioners work at the community level to tackle health inequities through policy, systems, and environmental improvements designed to enhance tobacco-free living, healthy eating, and active living among the underserved.
The guide, from the Prevention Institute and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, has practical tips on how you can build change for health equity:
- Tips to help you and your colleagues build organizational capacity; develop partnerships; foster meaningful engagement; and design and evaluate equity-oriented strategies.
- Strategies, based in evidence and honed by practice, that are designed to reduce health disparities and create healthy communities for all.
- Information about potential barriers and unintended consequences that can hinder chronic disease prevention efforts.
- Examples of successful equity-oriented approaches to improving public health and reducing disparities, drawn from communities across the country.
The guide also has dozens of examples of successful changes in health equity.
For example, in Louisville, Ken., Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness implemented the Healthy Hometown Restaurant Initiative, designed to encourage restaurants to provide healthier options for their patrons. Outreach efforts led many restaurant owners throughout the city, including in low-income neighborhoods, to alter their menus and provide nutrition labeling information for their menus.
The study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research examined survey data to examine kids’ dietary behaviors and the impact of parents on food choices.
The study found that:
- 60% of all kids between the ages of 2 and 5 had eaten fast food at least once in the previous week.
- 29% of all kids had eaten fast food two or more times in the previous week.
- Only 57% of parents reporting that their child ate at least five fruit and vegetable servings the previous day.
- Latino and Asian parents say they have less influence over what their child eats than other groups.
“A weekly happy meal is an unhappy solution, especially for toddlers,” said Susan Holtby, the study’s lead author and a senior researcher at the Public Health Institute. “Hard-working, busy parents need support to make healthy food selections for their kids.”
Toddlers from low-income Hispanic, American Indian (AI), and Alaskan Native (AN) homes are at increased risk for obesity, according to a new study, Medscape reports.
The federal study, published in the journal Pediatrics, collected weight data for 1.2 million children at ages 0 to 23 months in 2008 and followed up with them within 24 to 35 months in 2010-11. In 2008, 13.3% of children were obese. In 2010-11, 36.5% of those children remained obese and 11% who were not obese at baseline became obese at follow-up.
The Medscape article also highlighted some striking disparities in children’s weight by race/ethnicity:
At baseline, obesity rates were higher among Hispanic and AI/AN toddlers, with 18.0% of AI/AN children obese at baseline compared with 15.3% of Hispanic children, 12.8% of non-Hispanic black children, 11.5% of white children, and 9.5 of Asian/Pacific Island children. In addition, Hispanic and AI/AN children were more likely to remain obese at follow-up at 40.3% and 44.4%,respectively, compared with 34.7% of whites, 33.2% of Asian/Pacific islanders, and 30.5% of non-Hispanic blacks.
AI/AN and Hispanic youngsters were more likely to become obese 24 to 35 months after initial examination. Some 15.4% of AI/AM children became obese at follow-up. Of Hispanic children, 13.6% became obese compared with 9.7% of white children, 9.0% of Asian/Pacific Island children, and 8.7% of black children.
“The needs of Hispanic and AI/AN young children should be considered when designing population-based strategies to support environmental and system change in communities and culturally appropriate interventions,” the the researchers stated in the study’s conclusion.
Eating healthy during the holidays is not impossible, according to MomsRising, which galvanizes women around different issues, including health.
MomsRising united several food bloggers last year for a blog carnival focused on holiday eating.
Several of the carnival’s posts have relevance this year, too, for Latino families:
- Savory Latino Meals without the Meat (in Spanish here), by Elisa Bastista
- In Food We Trust, by Antonio Diaz
- Quinoa Salad, by Vianney Rodriguez
- A Simple Chile de Arbol Salsa, by Nicole Presley
- Mango, Jicama, and Cucumber Salad, by Veronica Gonzalez-Smith
Check out all recent blog carnival posts from MomsRising here.
Hispanics suffer a heavier burden of health conditions like diabetes, uncontrolled blood pressure, and work-related deaths, according to a new federal report.
The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Supplement, released on Nov. 21 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), highlights differences in mortality and disease risk for multiple conditions related to behaviors, access to health care, and social determinants of health—the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, age, and work.
The report highlights several Hispanic-oriented issues or conditions:
- Preventable hospitalization rates were highest for Hispanics and blacks.
- Diabetes rates were highest among Hispanics and blacks.
- Rates of uncontrolled blood pressure were highest among Mexican Americans.
- The prevalence of periodontitis, a gum infection, is highest among Mexican Americans than other racial/ethnic groups.
- Flu vaccine rates increased for Hispanics ages 65 and older.
- Minorities and Spanish speakers were more likely to live near major highways—suggesting an increased exposure to traffic-related air pollution.
- Work-related deaths are highest for Hispanics.
- The highest percentage of adults not completing high school were Hispanic.
- The highest percentage of adults living below the federal poverty level were black or Hispanic.
- Racial/ethnic minority areas more often lacked at least one healthier food retailer within a half-mile than white areas.
“It is clear that more needs to be done to address the gaps and to better assist Americans disproportionately impacted by the burden of poor health,” said Dr. Chesley Richards, director of CDC’s Office of Public Health Scientific Services, which produced the report. “We hope that this report will lead to interventions that will allow all Americans, particularly those most harmed by health inequalities, to live healthier and more productive lives.”
View the full report here.
Editor’s note: This editorial by Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez was part of a MomsRising blog carnival on Oct. 30, 2013.
Food marketing to kids is a huge piece of the U.S. obesity puzzle.
Latino kids are a prime target for food marketers, largely because of their large population numbers—they comprise 22% of all U.S. youth and will rise to 30% by 2025.
But there are other reasons they are such a target.
Latino kids have higher rates of exposure to media—TV, computers, video games, etc.—in a typical day than do their white peers, about 13 hours compared with 8.36 hours. And Latino teens have been called “superconsumers” of soda, candy, and snacks spending 4% more than non-Latino teens.
About 84% of kid-targeted food and drinks ads on Spanish-language TV promote foods in the lowest nutritional category, versus 74% on English channels, one study found. Another study found that Latino neighborhoods have nine times more outdoor ads for unhealthy foods and drinks than White neighborhoods.
How do marketers target Latino kids with food ads?
Marketers consider relevant ethnic-specific media channels, social institutions (i.e., churches) and shopping patterns.
They use Latino-relevant ethnic symbols, linguistic styles, music, athletes and celebrities to link cultural values with certain foods.
Spanish-language websites also target Latina moms, who they view as the decision-makers for food products bought for kids. Fast-food companies have developed ethnically targeted web content, such as McDonald’s MeEncanta.com.
What can be done to limit unhealthy marketing to Latino kids?
Food and beverage industry self-regulation of marketing to youths is mixed, and government regulation of food marketing to kids is limited.
Some efforts are going on. For example, the Walt Disney Company in 2012 announced a plan to phase junk food advertising out of its TV and radio programming targeted at kids.
Additional industry self-regulation and governmental regulation—stimulated by community awareness and action—can help limit the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to Latino children.
Local actions, according to one study, include:
- In food retail markets, limit amount of store window space dedicated to signs, and/or require “healthy check-out aisles.”
- In toy and sporting-goods stores where food isn’t the main product, prohibit food sales.
- In restaurants, enact local menu labeling laws and restrict placement of fast-food restaurants near schools or the density of fast food.
- In schools, can prohibit the sale and advertising of unhealthy foods on campus, including fundraisers.
- In communities, can tailor vending contracts to limit the sale and marketing of unhealthy foods at parks, pools, etc.
Marketers’ target has been set on Latino kids. Now it’s up to individuals and groups to make sure our children see healthy food options, rather than unhealthy ones.
Be sure to check out the research package on health marketing and Latino kids by Salud America! The RWJF Research Network to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Children. There you will find a fascinating animated video and colorful infographic that makes it easy to understand the issue and how it related to Latino kids.
Check out this excellent story by Eli Saslow of the Washington Post about how the food stamp diet is making people obese—but also leaving them hungry—in the largely Latino region of South Texas.
Here’s a little insight into the situation in Hidalgo County, Texas:
“El Futuro” is what some residents had begun calling the area, and here the future was unfolding in a cycle of cascading extremes:
Hidalgo County has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation . . . which has led almost 40 percent of residents to enroll in the food-stamp program . . . which means a widespread reliance on cheap, processed foods . . . which results in rates of diabetes and obesity that double the national average . . . which fuels the country’s highest per-capita spending on health care.
This is what El Futuro looks like in the Rio Grande Valley: The country’s hungriest region is also its most overweight, with 38.5 percent of the people obese. For one of the first times anywhere in the United States, children in South Texas have a projected life span that is a few years shorter than that of their parents.
It is a crisis at the heart of the Washington debate over food stamps, which now help support nearly 1 in 7 Americans. Has the massive growth of a government feeding program solved a problem, or created one? Is it enough for the government to help people buy food, or should it go further by also telling them what to eat?
Read more of this fantastic story and photos here.
Find the latest advances in Latino health—from a new support group for young cancer survivors to obesity prevention—in IHPR Noticias, the newsletter from the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, the team behind SaludToday.
IHPR Noticias has these stories and more:
- Story: “Breast Friends Forever” Support Group for Young Cancer Survivors in San Antonio (Pg 1)
- Profile: Inspired by Grandparents…The Story of the IHPR’s Rosalie Aguilar (Pg 2)
- Study: Obesity, Diabetes Biggest South Texas Health Threats (Pg 3)
- Video: Dr. Amelie Ramirez on the Future of Latino Health Care (Pg 4)
- Study: Síclovía Events Encourage Healthy Behaviors (Pg 6)
- Study: Racial/Ethnic Disparities Remain in Breast Cancer Rates (Pg 7)
- Resource: MiPlato Food Prep Tips, Recipes, Coloring Pages (Pg 9)
IHPR Noticias is jam-packed with even more info on the latest local and national health disparities-related news, resources and events.
Email us at email@example.com if you have story ideas.
The videos, which are also available in English, explore the latest research into how six critical topics—marketing, school snacks, sugary drinks, neighborhood food environments, active play and access to active spaces—impact Latino child health.
The videos also feature evidence-based recommendations on how to address the problem.
The child-narrated videos are part of a six new packages of research materials produced by Salud America!, a national research network on Latino childhood obesity that is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and based at the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Each topic’s package contains: a research review, an assessment of all available scientific evidence on the topic; an issue brief, a short summary of the research review; an animated video narrated by Latino children; and an infographic, a visual summary of the topic.
Materials are available for download here.
One sugary drink a day for a year is equal to 7,300 sugar cubes—the length of four blue whales—according to a new online campaign to promote more water and fewer sugary drinks from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and Brita USA.
Sugar-sweetened beverages are the largest source of added sugar in the diets of US youth.
Parents, caregivers, and role models for the next generation can set the right example and relay the right message about sugar consumption to kids, according to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation blog post.
“It’s easy to overlook the amount of sugar we consume in a single day when we look at it as just flavor. Remove that sugar from the drink and give it a physical form, and it turns into something that we would not as quickly put into our bodies. Think 14,600 teaspoons of sugar or maybe 7,300 sugar cubes,” according to the blog post.