New Research Briefs Examine Obesity Epidemic Among Latino Youths

Briefs analyze factors contributing to Latino childhood obesity, recommend policies to help prevent it

    • December 6, 2011

Salud America!, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), has released a comprehensive collection of research briefs examining the obesity epidemic among Latino children and teens.

Three of the new national briefs review current evidence with respect to Latino youth in three major areas: the availability of healthy, affordable foods; opportunities for physical activity; and the impact of food marketing on diets and obesity rates. These briefs also provide policy recommendations, including the following:

  • Efforts to bring healthy foods into neighborhoods and schools should particularly focus on Latino communities, since they are disproportionately affected by the epidemic.
  • Policies that can help people be physically active in their neighborhoods should emphasize Latino populations because they are more likely to live in areas that do not support such activity.
  • Efforts to reduce exposure to unhealthy food and beverage marketing should consider that Latino youth are particularly targeted by advertisers.
  • Health programs and messages should be culturally sensitive, relevant for all populations and produced in both English and Spanish.

In addition to these three briefs, 20 pilot grantees funded by RWJF through Salud America! have produced briefs highlighting their own, new research. The new briefs analyze a wide range of issues, from the impact of menu labeling in small restaurants in south Los Angeles, to how after-school programs can help Latino youths to become more active, to how community gardens can help lower-income Latino families eat more fruits and vegetables. These briefs are available on the Salud America! website.

Latinos are currently the most populous and fastest growing ethnic minority in the United States. Over the last decade, the Latino population has grown by more than 40 percent. And according to recent estimates, nearly 40 percent of Latino children and teens are overweight and more than 20 percent are obese. The new briefs provide a snapshot of the state of the epidemic among Latino youths and describe how leaders and policy-makers can more effectively address it.

Salud America!, the RWJF Research Network to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Children, is a national network of researchers, community leaders, policy-makers and other stakeholders who are working together to increase the number of Latino scientists seeking environmental and policy solutions to address Latino childhood obesity.