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Good Nutrition and Obesity Among Latino Youth

15 June 2005

By Caroline Clauss-Ehlers

Obesity refers to the excessive accumulation of fat in the body. It is a national problem in the United States in general, and among Latino youth in particular. Studies indicate that the prevalence of obesity among Latino youth who are 16 to 19 years old is double the national average for other adolescents within that age range. 12% of Latino boys and 19% of Latina girls are obese.

Obesity can be tied to different health problems for children such as asthma, diabetes Type 2, hypertension, and orthopedic complications. Significant stigma is also associated with obesity and can influence multiple social outcomes. Stigma can prompt feelings of isolation among Latino youth when they receive negative comments from peers about their weight and feel socially ostracized.

What to do?

Nutrition, level of physical activity, and psychological, physiological, and familial factors all relate to obesity. There are several things that parents can do to prevent and combat this problem. The National Association of School Psychologists recommends the following:

1. Show your child the basics of good nutrition and exercise from an early age.

2. Plan low-fat nutritious meals.

3. Do not offer food as a prize for something that your children have accomplished.

4. Teach your children to listen to bodily cues that indicate when they feel hungry or full.

5. Encourage your children to try a variety of different foods in moderation.

Remember that fast food is convenient and inexpensive, but it does not act as a substitute for good foods like salads, vegetables, fruits, and a healthy diet.

Send your questions to Nueva Edad/Hoy, 330 West 34 Street, 17th Floor, New York, NY 10001

Copyright 2005, Used with permission from Hoy.

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