Community members joined Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Champions for Change in observing September as Latino Health Awareness Month at Northgate Market located at 6801 S. Atlantic Ave. in Bell. Promoted by the California Champions for Change campaign, Latino Health Awareness Month is an opportunity to promote health as part of the community's rich cultural heritage and traditions. Today's event featured activities to encourage Latino families to join the movement for healthy change by eating healthier and being more active every day.
Improving the health of the Latino population is a priority in California and Bell. More than 32 percent of California's Latino adults are obese and among Latino adolescents, 40 percent are either overweight or obese.
Among California's adolescents, Latinos are more likely than other teens to drink sugar-sweetened beverages, with 48 percent drinking at least one per day.
Sugar-sweetened beverages comprise the largest source of added sugar and are associated with increased rates of obesity and other chronic health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes.
"This year's Latino Health Awareness Month activities emphasize cutting back sugar as an important strategy in the battle against obesity," said Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, MD, MPH, Interim Health Officer for Los Angeles County.
"Sugar comes in many forms and has many names making it hard to spot in the list of ingredients in food and beverages. These hidden sugars can really add up and to very unhealthy results. We are helping Latino adults and children take control of their daily sugar consumption by learning how to read nutrition labels and choosing healthy alternatives, like swapping sugar-sweetened beverages with fruit-infused water," said Gunzenhauser.
Families in attendance received a free cookbook and learned tips on how to prepare fast and healthy back to school breakfast, snacks and lunch for their families. Champion families from Bell and surrounding cities shared their healthier traditional meals. As part of the event, attendees were invited to a demonstration revealing the hidden sugars in popular beverages. They also learned the many other names used to describe sugar on nutrition labels.
"Latinos can be proud that our cultural heritage embraces healthy food and physical activity. We have a rich tradition of dishes filled with fruits and vegetables and, of course, Latin dances that are good for the heart and soul," said Aracely Rosas, Champion for Change, a resident of Highland Park who has made healthy changes in her own home and now volunteers as a Champion for Change. "The movement for healthy change doesn't mean turning away from our heritage, in fact we can honor our roots by living healthier and more active lives."
This Latino Health Awareness Month event in Bell, CA was one of several statewide Latino Health Awareness Month celebrations held throughout California in September. For more information, tips and recipes, Latino families are encourage to visit CAChampionsForChange.net