Obesity

Obesity has become a significant public health concern in the United States. Obesity can lead to many chronic health issues, including Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and some cancers. In the U.S. more than 1 out of 3 people are obese (34.9 percent) (JAMA). Latinos are more likely to be overweight or obese than the general population. In Washington State, the rate for Latinos was 32 percent in 2012 (WA State Dept. of Health). In 2008, the medical cost for obesity-related illnesses was $147 billion in the U.S. Children are also more likely to be overweight or obese. In 2012, in Washington State the overweight and obesity rate for 10th graders was 23 percent, a percent that has not changed in over a decade (WA State Dept. of Health).

THE CURRENT STATE AS DISCUSSED BY CONFERENCE PARTICIPANTS:

  • There is a $24,000 income gap between minorities and white majority which makes it difficult to purchase healthy foods and engage in physical activities
  • There has been an increase in community gardens
  • Studies show that school-based programs in California decreased obesity by 6 percent
  • There are farm to school programs in Idaho, and both farm to work and farm to school programs in Montana
  • There is a perception that an overweight child is a healthy child in the Latino community
  • Children’s Hospital has studied and implemented the “Walking School Bus” and “Bike Train”
  • 30–40 years ago, 50 percent of kids walked or biked to school; now it is only 13 percent
  • "Wholesome Wave” is a national program where the clinician writes a prescription for a food voucher
     

BARRIERS AND CHALLENGES TO OBESITY PREVENTION PER CONFERENCE PARTICIPANTS:

  • Healthy food and activities can be cost prohibitive
  • Local, regional, and federal politics can have an adverse impact on community, keeping Latinos isolated in their homes (ICE)
  • Youth Obesity project in Yakima finding difficulty with sustainability as well as getting parent commitment
  • Understanding that culturally the construct of obesity may be different
  • Built environment may pose a barrier; where are parks and grocery stores located?
  • Lack of funding for community-based organizations to conduct research — need to be written into the grants
  • How does one pay their CABS (community advisory boards)?
     

RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES AND PARTNERSHIPS:

  • Partnering with YMCA for health promotion
  • How to get Farm to School program implemented throughout region and measure its success; develop partnerships similar to Idaho with Dept. of Education and Dept. of Agriculture
  • Understand the social determinants of health that lead to diabetes in Latino children
  • Partner with the YMCA and other similar organizations to increase activity
  • Replication of a California school-based programs that decreased obesity in children by 6 percent
  • Understand why immigrants become less healthy when they come to the U.S.
  • Measure the success of the soccer project for kids

PREVALENCE OF SELF-REPORTED OBESITY AMONG HISPANIC ADULTS BY STATE, BRFSS, 2011-2013

obesity map

Contact Information | Latino Center for Health | ginoa@uw.edu | lsm2010@uw.edu | 206-616-9365