How to Overcome Latino Children’s Low Physical Activity Levels


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Editor’s Note: This is Part 3 of a series on new Salud America! research briefs examining Latino youth nutrition, physical activity and marketing. Today’s focus is physical activity.

Preventing obesity among Latino youth will require a sizeable decrease in energy intake and/or a reciprocal increase in physical activity.

A new Salud America! research brief shows that:

  • Latino parents report more barriers to their children’s physical activity than do white parents, including transportation problems, concerns about neighborhood safety, and the expense and availability of local recreation opportunities.
  • Latino children living in lower-income communities and unsafe neighborhoods are more likely to be physically inactive, overweight and/or obese.
  • Immigrant Latino children are more likely to be physically inactive compared with both native whites and native Latinos.
  • Latino youth are significantly less likely than their white peers to get involved in organized physical activity outside of school.
  • Parents of overweight Latino children provide less support for their children to engage in physical activity. Also, lack of quality advice from healthcare providers about physical activity and weight issues is a barrier for some Latino parents.

What can be done to promote physical activity among Latino children?

Evidence shows that the introduction of physical activity among sedentary and/or overweight Latino youths provides health benefits (e.g., increased insulin sensitivity, greater muscle mass), even in the absence of weight loss.

So culturally appropriate interventions and state policies that require regular, quality PE classes designed to promote physical activity among Latino children should be a health priority among local governments and city councils.

Also, given that Latino youth tend to live in neighborhoods with poor sidewalks and unsafe streets and their parents believe police protection is inadequate, local transportation, public works and law enforcement departments should prioritize improvements in these areas to help promote outside physical activity.

Read more here.

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