Obesity campaign looks to reach Hispanic community


by SUE TURNER / KVUE News Washington Bureau


Posted on April 9, 2010 at 4:33 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 9 at 4:33 PM

As part of her "Let's Move" campaign to end childhood obesity, First Lady Michelle Obama held her first meeting with a task force.

The childhood obesity epidemic is particularly high among Hispanics, and state legislators want to change that.

They came to Washington, DC Friday to talk about specific solutions for the Hispanic culture.

The task force the first lady is working with includes everyone from nutritionists to pediatricians to educators.

Their ideas are going to be of special interest to a group of Hispanic state legislators who are seeing rates of childhood obesity off the charts.

"In the end solving this problem is going to take every single one of us," Michelle Obama said.

That's exactly the approach the National Hispanic Caucus of state legislators is taking as they gather for three days to tackle childhood obesity.

"The Latino community seems to be one of the highest communities with obesity rate," said Iris Martinez, NHCSL president.

While about a third of kids are overweight, in some places in the Hispanic community they are seeing two out of every three kids overweight.

"Almost any Hispanic recipe begins with a big spoon of lard and a big spoon of salt," said Trey Martinez Fischer, Texas state representative.

Ninety percent of parents questioned among overweight Hispanic children in Chicago did not think their children needed to lose weight.

"Legislation's not gonna do it alone; community activists won't do it alone; corporations won't do it alone.  It requires all of us to get together and figuring out how we can synergize so that we can take a multifaceted approach," said Dr. Ian Smith, founder, The 50 Million Pound Challenge.

One of the big problems for the Hispanic population is their culture.  All of their celebrations include fattening foods.  So they made their own food pyramid with their foods including what they should have several times a day and what they should have in moderation.

"Just putting fresh fruits and vegetables in our school lunch program would move this ball miles," said Fischer.

The group is hoping they can take some concrete ideas back to their states to change the risk of the Hispanic community.
While Michelle Obama has gathered the what she calls the heavy hitters to get concrete ideas for change

One of the things the first lady is working on is getting rid of food deserts.  More than 23 million people in the U.S. live in a community with no supermarket.  Michelle Obama is working with private companies to try and change this.