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.”
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.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the costs of proposed federal legislation over a 10-year timeframe.
That might not be long enough to account for total savings inherent in the proposed legislation.
If the CBO extends that window from 10 to 75 years, it could better account for all of the costs and savings attributable to various obesity-prevention efforts, according to a new report by the Campaign to End Obesity.
The report identifies billions of dollars in potential savings that are attributable to four specific obesity-prevention strategies that would prevent obesity and related chronic conditions in the long run, thus helping save money by reducing health care costs and increasing wages.
Check out the report’s key findings in this infographic:
Latinos, for example, suffer various disparities in cancer, chronic disease, obesity and other conditions.
To learn more, visit the Institute for Health Promotion Research at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, the team behind SaludToday.
You also can check out the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Health Disparities & Inequalities Report. The report analyzes recent trends and ongoing variations in health disparities and inequalities.
A combination of regulation of unhealthy foods, support from community organizations, and individual behavior changes is crucial to reducing high rates of obesity among Latinos, according to a new report released this week by The Hispanic Institute.
The report, “Obesity: Hispanic America’s Big Challenge,” details the impact of diabetes and heart disease on the Latino community, which suffers from those obesity-related conditions at rates higher than Whites.
The report also offers recommendations and examines the positive roles of diet, exercise, and technology.
“Of course, we’re responsible for what we eat and drink, but we’re also subject to the effects of massive advertising and misleading promotional campaigns—especially on our children and the poor,” said Gus West, president of The Hispanic Institute, in a statement.
Physical activity is increasingly recognized as a critical way to prevent obesity, chronic disease and other serious health issues.
But nationally, only 1 in 4 adults meet physical activity guidelines.
Even fewer youths do.
A local volunteer group is trying to change that in San Antonio, a Texas city whose residents, most of whom are Latino, don’t engage in enough physical activity.
The Active Living Council of San Antonio, a community coalition formed in 2009 by local health officials using federal grant funds, has created the Active Living Plan for a Healthier San Antonio to identify and implement effective strategies to help people partake in “active living.”
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and his Mayor’s Fitness Council have endorsed the plan, which also has broad support from several community groups.
“We hope local leaders use the plan to build a culture of ‘active living,’ a way of life that integrates physical activity into San Antonio residents’ daily routines, such as walking to the grocery store, biking to work, or exercising,” said Laura Esparza, a member of the council and a researcher at the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
The council spent 18 months collaborating with community, governmental and industry members to create the plan.
The plan shares the vision of the U.S. National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP): “One day, all Americans will be physically active and they will live, work, and play in environments that facilitate regular physical activity.”
NPAP encourages use of evidence-based strategies to promote active living through policy, environmental and systems changes.
The council is currently reaching out to educate decision-makers, community leaders, and residents about local challenges to active living and how implementing the plan can help increase physical activity.
“We feel like this can help make San Antonio a much healthier place, and contribute to reducing obesity rates,” Esparza said.