5 Tips Latinos Can Do to Fight Childhood Obesity


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Felipe Lobelo
Dr. Felipe Lobelo

Childhood obesity is one of the biggest health problems in the nation, especially among Latinos.

About 20% of Latino children between ages 12-19 are obese, compared to 18% of all American children.

“You can say it’s the main problem facing our community,” said Dr. Felipe Lobelo, who specializes in nutrition, physical activity, and obesity at the CDC. “Unfortunately, we (Hispanics) are among the groups with the highest rates of obesity in both adults and children, and we have to do something about it.”

Dr. Lobelo offered these tips to help parents get started on preventing obesity:

1) Eat more fruits and vegetables. Eating fruits and vegetables is essential to fighting childhood obesity. Parents and guardians can add fruits to their kids’ diet by chopping them up and serving them as a snack instead of candy or chips. While some kids don’t like vegetables, Dr. Lobelo says that there are ways to get them to eat their greens. Parents should serve vegetables their kids will most likely enjoy, and add condiments if necessary.

2) Spend less time in front of a screen. Parents and guardians should place limits on the amount of time kids spend in front of a TV or computer. Ideally, no more than two hours a day. That way kids will have more time to follow the next piece of advice: Get up and move!

3) Exercise more. Dr. Lobelo says that exercise would be a miracle drug if it could be compressed into a pill and swallowed. It would reduce the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and several types of cancer. He recommends kids exercise for at least an hour a day. “I’m talking about kids getting out of the house and playing outside, in open spaces. They should go out and walk and have a lifestyle that is not sedentary.”

4) Eliminate sugary drinks. In the last few years there has been a tremendous growth in the consumption of sugary drinks such as sodas, juices, and energy drinks. “They have a lot of calories that offer no nutritional value and contribute to an unhealthy diet,” said Dr. Lobelo. “That’s why it’s recommended that people avoid them as much as they can.”

5) Set the example. Good eating habits at home are possible if parents give them the importance they deserve, said Dr. Lobelo. “A parent or guardian shouldn’t be telling his son to have good eating habits if he himself doesn’t have good eating habits,” he said. “The whole family should have good eating habits.”

By The Numbers By The Numbers



of Latino kids have obesity (compared to 11.7% of white kids)

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