Research: Latino Kids Get Less ‘Active Play’

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active playLatino kids have fewer opportunities to engage in physical activity than other kids.

They are also less likely to meet federal recommendations of at least 60 minutes of activity a day, due to fewer parks and other active spaces, fewer school- or community-based physical activity programs during school or after, and parenting styles.

But culturally relevant school- and community-based programs, better access to active play sites, and education for parents can help young Latinos become more physically active, according to a new package of research materials from Salud America! The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Research Network to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Children.

The new Salud America!Active Play and Latino Kids” materials include a research review of the latest science, an original animated video, and an infographic.

Programs implementing structured programs for active play at and after school may increase physical activity levels among Latino kids, studies show.

Such programs have proven to reduce inactive behaviors among Latina middle-school girls, increase active play levels in Latino preschool kids.

A walking program for Latinos also improved kids’ fitness by 37.1 percent.

“Health departments, schools and communities should collaborate on culturally relevant after-school programs or activities to help Latino kids meet the federal standard of 60 minutes of daily physical activity,” said Amelie G. Ramirez, director of Salud America!, based at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Other ways to increase active play include:

  • School administrators and staff should develop strategies for increasing opportunities for physical activity during the school day.
  • Neighborhood maps of physical activity resources should identify the need and appropriate areas for more park and recreation spaces in Latino communities.
  • Street-scale improvements and programs that facilitate safe transport are needed to increase use of physical activity sites in Latino communities.
  • Educating Latino parents about monitoring and rewarding healthy behaviors may improve the level of physical activity in their children.

The new research package is the fourth of six new research material packages by Salud America!, each of which focused on a specific topic on Latino childhood obesity. Find the others at www.salud-america.org.

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