Study: Children in South Texas ‘Colonias’ More Likely to be Sedentary, Obese


Nelda Mier
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Editor’s Note: This is a 20-part series featuring new research briefs on Latino childhood obesity, nutrition, physical activity and more by the 20 grantees of Salud America! Part 19 is Dr. Nelda Mier.

Dr. Nelda Mier
“Built Environment Policy for Physical Activity in Mexican-American Children”

In her Salud America! pilot research project, Dr. Nelda Mier of the Texas A&M Health Science Center investigated Latino children’s perceptions of environmental factors that influence their physical activity, and documented environmental characteristics in colonias in South Texas.

Colonias are unincorporated settlements along the U.S.-Mexico border where many people live in impoverished conditions and lack basic services such as running water.

Key preliminary findings include:

  • Mexican-American children in colonias do not meet physical activity requirements, are very sedentary and are likely to be overweight or obese;
  • the built environment influences physical activity among children in colonias; and
  • nearly all colonias lack sidewalks, pedestrian signage and parks.

Results suggest that children living in predominantly Latino colonias in South Texas are likely to be both sedentary and obese. Colonias tend not to have a built environment conducive to physical activity, resulting in a lack of activity and high rates of sedentary behavior and obesity among Mexican-American children and their families.

Read more here.

Salud America! is an RWJF national program directed by the Institute for Health Promotion Research at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, the team behind SaludToday.

By The Numbers By The Numbers



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

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