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Latino Daily News

Wednesday September 8, 2010

Hispanic Childhood Obesity Initiatives Given Large Financial Boost

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is pouring $2 million into an initiative that will bring together five civil rights organizations with the prominence and strength to help reverse childhood obesity, especially in African-American and Latino communities where the epidemic continues to hit hardest.

Over the next 16 months, the groups will aim individually and collaboratively to advance the public advocacy and policy changes critical to creating healthier communities. The initiative recognizes the power of their work to solve systemic issues of racial and social injustice, which underlie many neighborhoods’ limited access to affordable, nutritious food or safe places for children to be physically active.

The organizations include the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC); Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF); National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); National Council of La Raza (NCLR); and National Urban League (NUL).

ImageRWJF’s announcement of the initiative coincides with September’s designation as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Prevention is acutely needed in communities of color given the troubling disparities that persist in rates of childhood obesity and related health problems.  Forty percent of Hispanic boys are overweight or obese, for example, while nearly three of every 10 African-American adolescent girls are obese. And while obesity is associated with increased risk of asthma, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease for all children, the risk is decidedly higher among these populations.

Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel: “The disparate effect of childhood obesity on the Latino and African American communities is a national civil rights issue, with significant effects on the future American workforce that will sustain and continue to build our great nation. We must act now to address this problem in order to secure our national future. MALDEF is pleased to partner with our sister organizations and RWJF in taking on this critical concern.”