Day Without Sugar Challenges Latino Eating Habits but not Food Advertising

Day Without Sugar Challenges Latino Eating Habits but not Food Advertising

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As reported by KUHF, Arte Público Press, a publishing house known for promoting Latino authors and maintaining Latinos’ literary history, is sponsoring a Day Without Sugar, challenging Latino children to change their eating habits for just one day. The purpose is to make Latino kids aware of just how much sugar is in their diets, not just in the obvious places like soda but also in the less obvious, non sweet snack foods like spicy hot snacks. Researchers cited by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR)  estimate that nearly two-fifths (38.5%) of Latino children ages two to 19 were overweight or obese in 2008.

Arte Publico Press is offering accessible information and incentives via their site in order to attempt to reverse the trend,  including a bilingual coloring book that teaches kids how to look for the hidden sugar in their diet , find healthy alternatives for the sugar laden foods they are used to eating, and encourages kids to exercise. The site also offer recipes, tips, and facts on Latino childhood health, and a toolkit for families and classrooms to use.

While the fact sheet references Latinos’ limited access to supermarkets, neither the coloring book nor the recipe or tip page offer participating families any suggestions on how to deal with the issue of food deserts.. Nor does the challenge offer insight as to how to handle the growing wave of fast food advertising targeting Latino children. Also absent from the Day without Sugar challenge is how to balance the issue of obesity with the issue of poverty and hunger among Latino communities.

According to a 201o report, Profiles of Latino Health by the NCLR.   Latino  neighborhoods are about 1/3 less likely to have a chain supermarket. While smaller markets and street vendors offer some relief,  often the quality of the produce leaves much to be desired. According to the same report, Latino children make up almost 40% of the one million children living in hunger, while struggling with one of the highest risks for obesity. Nearly two-fifths (38.5%) of Latino children ages two to 19 were overweight or obese in 2008.

The NCLR report also cites that Latinos average food spending represents a greater share of total household expenditures and in food deserts much of that money goes to fast food.  Marketing and advertising play a large role in determining where that money goes. According to a recent study published by the Journal of Health Communication, fast food companies are targeting bilingual kids. More than three-quarters of Spanish-language food ads used children’s favorite cartoon characters to market the unhealthiest foods compared to  English-language shows with  just under half of the ads.

A University of Illinois at Chicago Health Policy Center study found that low-income black and Latino youth were exposed to 80 percent and 49 percent more ads than white children, respectively. Getting Latino kids will only solve part of the problem since exterior advertising by fast-food restaurants is significantly is more prevalent in Latino neighborhoods according to Bridging the Gap, research program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Much of the language in terms of combating obesity in Latino communities focuses on changing habits, specifically focusing on the individual actions of families of color, at times even accusing these families of being ignorant and lacking good judgement. While individual responsibility is important, it fails to factor in the role of corporations in perpetuating consumer habits based on a lack of resources. While a Day without Sugar is a good program educating Latino kids, their families, and larger community, it is only one part of a larger, more complicated equation. Targeting income inequality, corporate marketing policies, and urban planning will lead the country towards a more robust and complete way of insuring that Latino and all children are healthier.

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  1. […] Day Without Sugar Challenges Latino Eating Habits but not Food Advertising Nor does the challenge offer insight as to how to handle the growing wave of fast food advertising targeting Latino children. Also absent from the Day without Sugar challenge is how to balance the issue of obesity with the issue of poverty and hunger … Read more on Politic365 […]

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