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Research: 5 Ways to Help Latino Kids Achieve a Healthy Weight by Kindergarten


By our friends at Salud America!

More Latino kids ages 2-5 are overweight/obese (30%) than white kids (21%).

That’s because of maternal obesity, less exclusive breastfeeding, and workplace and childcare issues that affect nutrition and physical activity levels, according to a new package of research from Salud America!, a national network for Latino childhood obesity prevention funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and based at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Salud America!’s Healthy Weight by Kindergarten for Latino Kids research shows that half of Latinas are overweight/obese when they get pregnant. Obese Latina moms gave birth to kids who were 1.8 times more likely to be obese than their peers.

Breastfeeding can reduce obesity by 47% among Latino kids, but Latina moms are less likely than white moms to exclusively breastfeed their infants through age 1.

Solutions are emerging to improve maternal and child health:

Maternal exercise. Kids were less likely to be overweight or obese if the mother reported moderate exercise during pregnancy than if the mother reported remaining sedentary.

Prenatal programs. Women in a nurse-mother prenatal program in Colorado (47% Latina) had more than 90% of babies born at a healthy weight and 91% of mothers initiating breastfeeding.

Maternity leave. InCalifornia (39% Latino),where a paid family leave program is in place, breastfeeding duration was twice as long among mothers who took paid family leave.

Workplace policies. Latina moms were 30% more likely than white moms to breastfeed infants for at least 6 months in states with laws that provided break-time from work, and 20% more likely in regions with enforcement provisions for pumping laws.

Early childcare settings. Improving nutrition and physical activity standards in early childcare settings can curb kids’ fat intake, increase fruit/vegetable consumption, and boost activity levels.

“Interventions or policies aimed at improving breastfeeding rates among Latina mothers and improving healthy lifestyle standards in prenatal and early childcare settings are critical to promoting healthy weight goals,” said Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, director of Salud America! and the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Go here to see the full research package!

 Salud America! is developing five new research packages: Better Food in the Neighborhood (Dec. 8, 2015); Active Spaces (Jan. 12, 2016); Healthier Schools (Jan. 19 2016); Healthy Weight by Kindergarten (January 2016); and Sugary Drinks (February 2016). Learn more here.