A Research Network to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Children

In five years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) Salud America! has developed a network of experts and community advocates working to reverse Latino childhood obesity.

Latino children are likely to be overweight compared to other children (39% versus 32% in 2009–2010). They face socioeconomic and other barriers to healthy foods and physical activity. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) saw the need for a research initiative dedicated to preventing obesity among Latino children and in 2007 launched Salud America! The RWJF Research Network to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Children.

RWJF, with the leadership of a community-based prevention expert sought to build a network of researchers focused on Latino childhood obesity. Twenty grants for pilot studies were awarded to investigators, many of whom were Latino, to prepare them to then seek $36 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health, as well as from other government agencies and private foundations.

The Salud America network now numbers 2,000 experts who will help to sustain an evidence-based focus on prevention of Latino childhood obesity. The network, it’s national advisory committee, and funded researchers meet periodically through a scientific summit. The program is the go-to resource for information on Latino childhood obesity prevention with video, Web, and blog presences.

Salud America has built a new field of activity on obesity prevention research for Latinos. “Now,” write Lavizzo-Mourey and Leviton, “we need to use this information for action.”


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Hispanic children aged 2–19 who were overweight or obese in 2009-2010.