Latino students are widely exposed to high-fat, high-sugar snacks and drinks sold in schools, but implementing stronger nutritional standards can yield healthier school snacks for this growing population at high risk of obesity, according to a new package of research materials released today by Salud America! The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Research Network to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Children.
The new Salud America! “Healthier School Snacks & Latino Kids” research materials start off with an in-depth review and summary of the latest science on school snacks and drinks and policy implications based on that research.
This is the first of six new research material packages to be released over the summer by Salud America!, each of which will focus on a specific topic on Latino childhood obesity and highlight the issue, policy implications and future research areas.
The “Healthier School Snacks & Latino Kids” package highlights the fact that young people consume a high proportion of their daily calories at school, which means it is important to consider the types of foods and drinks available in schools, along with the impact those items can have on students’ diets.
This research shows that access to unhealthy snack foods and beverages in schools has a disproportionately negative health influence among Latino students. Schools with a higher proportion of Latino students also tend to have weaker policies regarding access to and nutritional values of these items.
By 2050, 35 percent of young people in the U.S. will be Latino, so providing healthier school snacks and drinks can help make sure this growing population is healthy.
The six research packages examine several key topics related to childhood obesity, with a particular focus on how each impacts the Latino community:
- healthier school snacks (May 2013);
- better food in the neighborhood (June 2013);
- active play (June 2013);
- active spaces (July 2013);
- healthier marketing (July 2013), and
- sugary drinks (August 2013)
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.
We hope researchers, decision-makers, community leaders, school officials, parents and even children can use these research materials to learn about the problems related to Latino childhood obesity, and what can be done about them.
Amelie G. Ramirez, DrPH, directs the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, which researches Latino health issues and founded the SaludToday Latino health blog, Twitter and Facebook. Dr. Ramirez, an internationally recognized cancer health disparities researcher, has spent 30 years directing research on human and organizational communication to reduce chronic disease and cancer health disparities affecting Latinos, including cancer risk factors, clinical trial recruitment, tobacco prevention, obesity prevention, healthy lifestyles, and more. She also trains/mentors Latinos in behavioral sciences and is on the board of directors for LIVESTRONG, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and others.