Food & Latino Kids Research: Future Research

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This is part of our Food and Latino Kids: A Research Review »

Future Research Needs

This review of the evidence indicates that researchers should conduct additional and more rigorously designed studies, such as experimental or quasi-experimental studies with less reliance on self-reported data whenever possible.

Future research should examine the degree to which increased access to local healthy foods impacts dietary habits and obesity in Latino communities.

Researchers also should:

  • Identify other multilevel factors (for individuals, at homes, in neighborhoods, counties and cities), that contribute to obesity and health outcomes. Such factors include stressors, lack of time or interest in preparing healthy foods, prices for healthy foods that far exceed those for unhealthy alternatives, and the influence of fast-food in Latino populations.
  • Document the distinct places where people from underserved communities shop for food, and the quality, price and display of foods available there. Primary data collection efforts are critically needed to deepen our understanding of these issues and their impact on body weight and health outcomes in Latino communities, rather than relying on data developed for other purposes. This research should consider whether participants’ grocery shopping is limited to stores within the immediate neighborhood, or whether shopping is done at stores close to worksites and other areas.
  • Evaluate demonstration projects by collecting data on sales, prices, access, purchasing and consumption of healthy foods. In addition, establish the program’s baseline investment and, over time, calculate the return on investment in terms of both health and economic benefits so as to better leverage future funding. Funders should provide financial support and requirements for the collection of this information.
  • Assess food use and preferences in homes and the influence of cooking skills and time on the amount of healthy foods incorporated into the diets of underserved Latino families.
  • Investigate whether food hubs that aggregate locally produced foods and distribute them to individuals, retailers and other institutions in underserved neighborhoods can improve access to affordable healthy foods in these communities.
  • Examine specific cultural factors in Latino and other underserved communities that might influence the effectiveness of various policies to improve access to affordable healthy foods, as well as assess what implementation strategies work best for these populations.
  • Investigate the role of food and beverage marketing to Latino children and youth on the obesity epidemic in this population.

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