San Diego, CA, February 15, 2013 – Guided grocery store trips, menu labeling at restaurants, community gardens, and video-game-based exercise programs are among several promising, culturally appropriate ways to prevent obesity among Latino children, according to a new collection of studies from Salud America! The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Research Network to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Children published in a supplement to the March issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Salud America! is a national network of researchers, advocates, and policymakers established in 2007 that seeks environmental and policy solutions to Latino childhood obesity, an American epidemic.
The supplement focuses on Salud America! achievements over the past five years, including 19 papers of groundbreaking research. It also features three commentaries authored by a range of political and medical leaders—such as San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro and Harvey V. Fineberg, President of the Institute of Medicine.
Each paper considers the context of Latino culture, health conditions, and/or policies in places where Latino children and families live, work, learn, play, and pray.
"This supplement is the culmination of several years of diligence, passion, and hard work in identifying and examining the most promising policy-relevant strategies to reduce and prevent obesity among Latino children," say supplement editors Amelie G. Ramirez, DrPH, MPH, director of Salud America! and the Institute for Health Promotion Research at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and Guadalupe X. Ayala, PhD, MPH, of the Division of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences in the Graduate School of Public Health at San Diego State University. "In addition to fueling new research findings, Salud America! helped to increase the skills and experience of researchers working in the field, and further expand the national Salud America! research network. The ranks of those working to reverse the country's obesity epidemic are getting stronger each day."
In the United States, Latinos are currently the most populous and fastest-growing ethnic minority. About 44 percent of Latino boys and 38 percent of Latino girls are either overweight or obese, compared with an average rate of 31 percent. Children who are overweight or obese are more likely to remain so later in life, which can put them at greater risk for long-term health conditions, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer.
The supplement presents Salud America! studies that sought effective approaches for preventing and controlling obesity among Latino children. The studies represent work conducted in eleven states and a variety of participants, research methodologies, and outcomes.
Within the Latino community, studies concluded that:
Within schools, a team of investigators concluded that using active video games can increase cardiorespiratory endurance and math scores over time among Latino students.
Within the Latino family, studies focused on the effectiveness of a variety of interventions:
In his commentary, George R. Flores, MD, MPH, asserts, "Research represented in the Salud America! supplement is noteworthy because it represents good science and new information about a population and problem that deserve much greater attention, was produced with a minimum of resources, and provided opportunities for professional growth to a number of early career scientists. For its foresight and support of Salud America!, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation merits acclaim."
These papers will be highlighted in a research symposium at the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) annual meeting in Phoenix-Scottsdale, February 20-23, 2013 (www.preventivemedicine2013.org).
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