Research: Latino Kids Lack Play Spaces, Increasing Obesity Risk

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Hanging from monkeybarsDid you know that 81% of Latino neighborhoods don’t have a safe recreational facility?

That means Latino kids lack places to play and be active, which contributes to higher rates of physical inactivity and obesity, according to a new package of research from Salud America!, a national network for Latino childhood obesity prevention funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and based at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Salud America!’s Active Spaces and Latino Kids research package tackles the latest science on the Latino physical activity environment and offers policy recommendations.

Solutions are emerging to improve access to and safe use of active spaces:

Shared use agreements are formal contracts between a school and a city, county, or sports league that outline terms for sharing existing physical activity facilities. They help boost access to active spaces in Latino communities.

Neighborhood park programs can engage kids and residents to identify barriers to park usage and lead to improvements, while scheduling park programs later in the evening can occupy people with positive activities and reduce crime.

Safe street initiatives, such as “complete streets,” can slow vehicular traffic and add crosswalks, sidewalks, and protected bicycle lanes, thus encouraging safe, active transportation and more walkable neighborhoods.

“Latino kids don’t get enough exercise, so it’s critical to make parks, school playgrounds, and other recreational sites safer and more accessible to help Latino kids be active and fight obesity,” said Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, director of Salud America! and the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Go here to see the full research package!

Salud America! is developing five new research packages: Better Food in the Neighborhood (Dec. 8, 2015); Active Spaces (Jan. 12, 2016); Healthier Schools (January 2016); Healthy Weight by Kindergarten (January 2016); and Sugary Drinks (February 2016). Learn more here.

By The Numbers By The Numbers

20.7

percent

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

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