Childhood obesity has long been a problem in the Latino community. Now, government and health officials in New York are gathering for a first-of-its-kind summit to discuss ways to address the issue.
On Tuesday, the New York Senate Puerto Rican and Hispanic task force announced that they will be inviting 100 key leaders in the Latino community to tackle childhood obesity among Latinos.
“The summit is very timely because Hispanics have obesity at three times the rights of the average population,” Dr. Elena Rios, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association, told Fox News Latino.
Friday’s "Early Childhood Obesity Hispanic Leadership Summit" will try to come up with strategies that would keep the weight off Latino children.
The programs will focus on education programs in the nation’s schools and child care as well as the impact of the quality and quantity of healthcare in early childhood. The goal, organizers say, is to figure out how federal and state programs could help the community combat obesity.
Significant ethnic and economic disparities are contributing to the prevalence of obesity among U.S. children and adolescents.
At 43 percent, the number of Latinos ages 2-19 who are overweight is 5 percent higher than in the non-Latino community.
New York state assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz – who along with Somos el Futuro, the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA) and the National Hispanic Health Foundation (NHHF) are the leading voices behind the summit – said the issue is an important one.
"This epidemic hits home for me because of the significant impact on the community I represent,” said Ortiz. “We need to make these communities healthier by changing the environment to make it easier to consume nutritious foods, increase physical activity and access health care that supports these changes."