About the Author

Author Picture

Cliff Despres

Cliff Despres, who has more than a decade of experience in journalism and public relations, is communications director for Salud America! and its home base, the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio.


Connect with Cliff:
Twitter Link

Articles by Cliff Despres

8 Unconventional Ways to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo


diverse group volunteering for environmental clean up

What are you doing for Cinco de Mayo? Many will use it as an excuse to party with margaritas and tacos. We at Salud America! invite you to think outside the box and celebrate Cinco de Mayo in one of six unconventional ways. 1. Find Out What Cinco de Mayo Really Means Cinco de Mayo ("Fifth of May") does not celebrate Mexico's Independence Day. Mexico won independence on Sept. 16, 1810. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican Army's unlikely victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza. Still, it has evolved into an observance of Mexican heritage. "In the 1950s, Chicano activists turned Cinco de Mayo into a commemorative holiday used to educate Mexican Americans about their cultural heritage," ...

Read More

#SaludTues Tweetchat 4/16: Why Housing Matters for Our Health


Latino minority family moving into affordable housing for health equity

Did you know housing can influence your health? Inside our homes, we need an environment free of lead, mold, smoke, and other toxins. Outside our homes, we need access to quality medical care, transit, schools, jobs, and grocery stores. But certain communities lack access to these types of home environments. Others struggle to afford a home or steady housing. This undermines their opportunities for a healthy life. Let’s use #SaludTues on Tuesday, April 16, 2019, to share innovative strategies to improve access to safe, secure, affordable housing for Latino and all communities: WHAT: #SaludTues Tweetchat: “Strong Foundations: Why Housing Matters for Our Health” TIME/DATE: 1-2 p.m. ET (Noon-1 p.m. CT), Tuesday, April 16, 2019 WHERE: On Twitter with hashtag ...

Read More

Yvette Pavon: Living Life Better After Breast Cancer


Yvette Pavon breast cancer survivor 1

By Yvette Pavon San Antonio Cancer Survivor At the age of 42, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was found after my very first mammogram. Never did I think that a check up that I had scheduled only because it was something that women did when they got older, would discover I had cancer. I had no symptoms. When my gynecologist shared the news with me in her office, I think I was in complete denial. I mean I went for this mammogram on my own free will, not because of my doctor's concern. I remember going to dinner that night with my father, stepmother, and newly boyfriend. I wasn't scared when talking about it. I knew letting my mind run wild would not help, so I talked to God that night. "God, please give me the strength and courage that I need to get through ...

Read More

How to Dismantle 5 Ugly Drivers of Health Inequity



Health equity is when everyone has a fair and just opportunity to live their healthiest life possible. Yet health inequity remains. Latinos, for example, face discriminatory policies and barriers to healthcare, social support, healthy food, and more. That's why we're proud to share A Blueprint for Changemakers: Achieving Health Equity Through Law & Policy, a new report from ChangeLab Solutions and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that can help communities advance a local agenda to ensure health equity for everyone. The Blueprint report offers key policies and legal strategies on five underlying realities behind health inequity: 1. Reduce Structural Discrimination Historic oppression, segregation, and bias create health inequity. Among Latinos, implicit bias impacts ...

Read More

Why 2 Latino Cities Rank as the Least Healthy in U.S.



Two Texas cities—Laredo (95.4% Latino) and Brownsville (93.9% Latino)—rank as the least healthy U.S. cities, according to the 2019 Healthiest & Unhealthiest Cities in America by WalletHub. The ranking scores 174 large cities based on 42 health indicators. They look at cost of medical visits, and the number of dieticians and mental health counselors. They also factor in the amount of green space, trails, and healthy restaurants. Healthy food consumption and physical activity also has weight. "Some places promote wellness by expanding access to nutritious food and recreational facilities. Others strive to keep healthcare costs affordable for everyone or keep parks clean and well-maintained," according to WalletHub. "When a city doesn’t take care of these issues, it can ...

Read More

The Sad Reason More Latino Kids Don’t Participate in School Sports, Activities



Nearly 21% of Latino parents said their middle- and high-school children would not participate in any school activities in 2018-19, a higher rate than parents overall (18%), according to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan. These kids miss the boost in educational achievement and personal development that stem from school extracurricular activities, from sports to student council. So why aren't more kids participating? The Biggest Reason: Cost Most middle- and high-schoolers will participate in at least one school activity in 2018-19. This includes 52% in sports, 43% in arts, and 51% in clubs/other, according to the poll. But cost is the biggest reason keeping other kids from participating. Many school ...

Read More

5 Pediatrician-Approved Policies to Limit Kids’ Sugary Drinks (Including Soda Taxes)


Latino toddler kid with sugury drink obesity

In a joint policy statement today, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Heart Association (AHA) endorsed five public health measures—including excise taxes—to reduce kids’ consumption of sugary drinks. The statement appears in the April 2019 issue of Pediatrics. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that children and teens consume fewer than 10% of calories from added sugars. But data show that they now consume 17% of their calories from added sugars—half of which come from sports drinks, fruit-flavored drinks and sodas. Latino children consume more sugary drinks than their peers. "On average, children are consuming over 30 gallons of sugary drinks every year. This is enough to fill a bathtub, and it doesn’t even include added sugars ...

Read More

Lettuce Celebrate: Amelie Ramirez Wins Healthy Nutrition Award


Amelie Ramirez Latino Health Champion 2018

Congratulations to Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, director of Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio, on being selected for the Bluebonnet Award of the Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics! This honor recognizes an individual who is not a dietitian, but who has contributed significantly to promote and advance nutrition in Texas and beyond. Ramirez will be formally recognized during the annual conference of the Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on April 11, 2019, in Arlington, Texas. “I’m very thankful for this award from the Texas Academy, which is a recognition of our ongoing work to promote healthy food access for Latinos in Texas and across the nation,” Ramirez said. Dr. Ramirez & Her Work to Advance Nutrition Ramirez currently directs the Salud America! ...

Read More

The Eye-Popping Surge of Latino-Serving Colleges, Universities


Latino Hispanic college student studying in a university library

The number of Latino or Hispanic-serving colleges and universities has risen 98% in the past 10 years, from 264 in 2007 to 523 in 2018, according to a new report by Excelencia in Education. A “Hispanic-Serving Institution” (HSI) has 25% or more undergraduate full-time equivalent Latino enrollment. HSIs now constitute 17% of all colleges and universities. The Key Data Two of three Latino undergraduates attend an HSI. 46% of student enrollment at HSIs is Latino. HSIs are present in 27 states and Puerto Rico. That's up from 21 last year. HSIs are very concentrated geographically. 69% were located in three states and Puerto Rico. California has the most, followed by Texas and New York. Most HSIs are located in a city (273) or suburb (163). Fewer were in towns ...

Read More