The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) are joining forces next week for an important discussion on childhood obesity in the Latino community. The event will take place June 23 during the NAHJ Region 8 conference in Los Angeles and will focus on the role Hispanic media can play in reducing the epidemic.
Research shows Latino youth in the United States are more likely to be overweight or obese than their White peers and are at greater risk for developing heart disease, asthma, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea and other health problems. The same holds true in California, where more than 46 percent of Latino fifth-, seventh- and ninth-graders were overweight or obese between 2005 and 2010.
California was one of the first states to set strong nutrition standards for foods and beverages sold through school vending machines, à la carte cafeteria lines, school stores and other sources outside of school meals. A recent study indicates California high school students consumed lower quantities of fat, sugar and calories in school than students in states with no such competitive food nutrition standards.
The childhood obesity discussion will be held at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. NAHJ President Michele Salcedo will open the panel with brief remarks. Abelardo de la Peña Jr., editor and founder, LatinoLA.com, will serve as moderator. Each of the panelists is a leader involved in efforts to improve the health of Latinos, including:
• Rosa Sosa, project director, Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities – Baldwin Park, and regional director, California Center for Public Health Advocacy
• Corina Ulloa, program coordinator, Network for a Healthy California, El Monte School District, (which includes Rio Hondo Elementary School, only the third school in the nation to receive the Alliance for a Healthy Generation's Healthy Schools Program Gold award)
• Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati, PhD, associate professor of research, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, and co-principal investigator, USC Childhood Obesity Research Center's MY LA (Minority Youth Leaders in Action) Camp Program