Profiles of Latino Health Series 3
A Closer Look at Latino Child Nutrition
With childhood hunger and obesity recently reaching peak levels in the United States, policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels have recognized that the health of future generations is contingent upon improving the nutritional status of American families.¹ The President and First Lady, together with leaders in the U.S. Congress, have made child nutrition a top policy priority for the nation.
Addressing the unique needs of the Latino² population will be an integral part of any strategy to promote and improve child nutrition. Hispanic children currently make up more than one in five children in the U.S., and, as the fastest-growing segment of the child population, are expected to represent nearly one in three children by 2030.³ Latino children are also the hungriest in America—making up almost 40% of the one million children living in hunger.⁴ Ironically, they also have one of the highest risks for obesity; researchers estimate that nearly two-fifths (38.5%) of Latino children ages two to 19 were overweight or obese in 2008.⁵ Because hunger and obesity have serious implications for the developmental and health outcomes of children and adolescents, it is imperative to take action now, before these children become the first generation not to outlive its parents.
September 2010 marks both Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and National Hunger Action Month, issues that are two sides of the same coin. In recognition of these movements, NCLR is releasing a new twelve-part series, Profiles of Latino Health: A Closer Look at Latino Child Nutrition. Each profile provides a snapshot of the latest research and data on issues affecting Latino child nutrition.
¹ The 12-part series, Profiles of Latino Health: A Closer Look at Latino Child Nutrition, was authored by Kara D. Ryan, Research Analyst with the Health Policy Project at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), with substantive guidance and oversight from Jennifer Ng’andu, Deputy Director of the Health Policy Project. Thanks are also due to Brad D. Johnson, consultant, who provided input on several of these profiles. Kari Nye, Assistant Editor, and Tiptavee Thongtavee, Graphic Designer, provided technical support and prepared the document for publication. NCLR is the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.
² The terms “Hispanic” and “Latino” are used interchangeably by the U.S. Census Bureau and throughout this document to refer to persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central and South American, Dominican, Spanish, and other Hispanic descent; they may be of any race. Furthermore, unless otherwise noted, estimates in this document do not include the 3.9 million residents of Puerto Rico.
³ Mark Mather and Patricia Foxen, America’s Future: Latino Child Well-Being in Numbers and Trends (Washington, DC: National Council of La Raza, 2010).
⁴ Mark Nord, Margaret Andrews, and Steven Carlson, Household Food Security in the United States, 2008. Economic Research Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Washington, DC, 2009.
⁵ Cynthia L. Ogden et al., “Prevalence of High Body Mass Index in U.S. Children and Adolescents, 2007–2008,” JAMA 303, no. 3 (January 2010): 242–249.