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The Source: Obesity And Park Access In Latino Communities

Seattle Municipal Archive | http://bit.ly/1RA1VrN

40 percent of Latino children are “dangerously overweight” and vulnerable to a number of obesity-related ailments, including diabetes and heart disease. A new study shows many of these kids don’t have access to parks and safe areas to play.

Why is there an obesity epidemic in America? And why are Latino children the most at risk? There is not one single answer to that big question. Genetics, culture, lifestyle choices, diet are certainly suspects but could another be the neighborhoods where Latino children live.

A new report from Salud America! a non-profit with the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio that is looking to improve health outcomes for the Latino population found that Latino children tend to live in low income areas without access to parks and safe areas for robust play.

“So what we found in our study is that 81 percent of latino neighborhoods didn’t have access to recreational facility compared to 38 percent on non-hispanic white neighborhoods,” says Rosalie Aguilar, project coordinator for Salud America!

Aguilar says that having access to play areas gives Latino children more opportunities to burn calories. But that’s not the only reason why these children are dealing with weight problems – the consumption of sugar drinks is also a culprit.

“So it makes a big big difference – in Texas alone 25 percent of children reported drinking at least one soda per day.”

Looking across the nation – Aguilar found that 83 percent of the white population saw their neighborhoods are safe places for kids to play – however only 70 percent of Latinos feel that way about their neighborhoods.


  • Rosalie Aguilar, project coordinator for Salud America! at the University of Texas Health Science Center
  • Shirley Gonzales, council member for San Antonio's 5th District
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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi