Parents May Hold Key to Healthy Weight in Hispanic
FRIDAY, Dec. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Parents of overweight
Hispanic children are willing to make food and lifestyle changes
that will benefits their kids' health, a new study suggests.
The findings may help improve efforts to combat the childhood
obesity epidemic among Hispanic Americans, the largest and
fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States, said the
researchers at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in
"Almost half of all Latino kids are either overweight or obese," senior study author Dr. Glenn Flores, a professor of pediatrics and clinical sciences, said in a medical center news release. "It's an important issue in terms of our future generations. If we intervene early enough, we won't have obese adults."
In the study, the researchers asked 19 Hispanic parents about
their children's dietary and exercise habits and roadblocks to
making healthier choices.
"Themes regarding the most important things parents can do to help overweight children lose weight included encouragement, not making the child feel left out, the whole family eating healthy and the parent setting a good example," said Flores, who is also head of general pediatrics at UT Southwestern and chief of general pediatrics at Children's Medical Center Dallas.
The parents and children also tasted Hispanic foods prepared
with healthy alternatives, such as tortillas made with vegetable
oil instead of lard, beans made without lard, healthy-grain
enchiladas with low-fat cheese, baked fish, skinless chicken
breasts and brown rice.
The participants had favorable responses to all of the foods,
with the exception of brown rice instead of white rice.
In addition to healthier foods, the parents said other actions
that would help their children lose weight included cutting down on
portion sizes and second helpings, drinking more water, being more
physically active, making exercise a family activity, and limiting
time in front of the television or computer.
Barriers to increased physical activity include cost, time
constraints and neighborhood safety, according to the parents.
"Sometimes getting kids into organized sports in the inner city is very difficult," Flores said. "The kids usually want it, but it's not always easy to find."
The study was released online in advance of publication in an
upcoming print issue of the
Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
The Nemours Foundation has more about
overweight and obesity in children.
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