Challenges for Children

Mom with baby

Bigger is not better…

Not for Latino infants, toddlers or any child. Childhood obesity, now an international epidemic, is striking hard throughout Hispanic communities in the United States. Over 35% of Hispanic 2- 5 year olds are already overweight or obese. While cultural values esteem chubby babies, it is now know that a child with a high BMI for age is much more likely to become an obese adult than is a relatively thin child. According to CDC’s David Freedman, PhD.  “Overweight children have a greatly increased risk for becoming overfat adults.”

Childhood Obesity has Lifelong Consequences

The consequence of childhood obesity wreak havoc as experts concur that the current generation of Hispanic children could become the FIRST in American history to live shorter lives than their parents. Obesity decreases the quality and length of life, and increases individual, national, and global healthcare costs. The physical and daily emotional toll of childhood obesity is significant. Insidious complications include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and asthma; sleep disorders, bone and joint challenges and even some cancers. Self-esteem and further isolation from engaging in physical activities add to the vicious cycle of childhood obesity with negative learned behaviors that can last a lifetime. Weight problems take a hefty toll on body and the mind – but there are solutions.

Childhood obesity trends for ethnic minorities, particularly for Hispanic infants and toddlers, are growing at an alarming rate compared to non-minority infants and children. According to the Centers for Disease control, 12.5% of Hispanic infants younger than 12 months have a high weight for length. Infants and children with high weights for length are more susceptible to becoming overweight or obese adolescents and adults.

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As Hispanic children grow, the trend towards obesity continues at an even greater rate, with 18.3% obese and 17.9% overweight in those aged two to five.

Prevalence of Obesity

Statistics from the CDC show that more than 33 percent of Hispanic/Latino boys are overweight, as are 35.7 percent of African-American boys and 51.2 percent of Mexican-American boys. Similarly, 30.1 percent of Hispanic/Latino girls, 46.4 percent of African-American girls and 36.7 percent of Mexican-American girls are overweight.

 

Health Consequences of Obesity:

Because of the many barriers to healthy eating and active living, Latino children and adolescents are more likely to suffer from overweight and obesity compared to other children. Obese children are at risk for developing medical problems that affect their present and future health and quality of life. Risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes can lead to serious medical problems like heart disease and stroke as adults. Obesity alone is estimated to cause 112,000 deaths per year in the United States.

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Economic Consequences of Obesity:

Childhood obesity also has detrimental effects to our economy. Nations with high rates of obesity have avoidable health expenses impacting their economic well-being. The economic consequences of childhood obesity have been estimated to exceed $14.1 billion and have been projected to continue to burden the healthcare system.

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Because of the many barriers to healthy eating and active living, Latino children and adolescents are more likely to suffer from overweight and obesity compared to other children.