Preventing Childhood Obesity

During the last several decades, the United States has seen an increase in childhood obesity rates. One-third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.[i] This alarming trend has disproportionately impacted low-income communities and communities of color. For example, Mexican American and African American youth ages 6 to 11 are more likely to be obese or overweight than white children[ii] and Latino and African-American children are more likely to develop diabetes than white children.[iii]

With the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, MALDEF is working to eliminate childhood obesity in Latino communities nationwide. Through advocacy and community outreach efforts, MALDEF is shedding light on this public health crisis. Over the next few years, MALDEF will work to educate policymakers at the federal, state and local level about the need for cultural competence and public resource equity in our food policy programs and legislative proposals that are aimed at addressing the broad issue of childhood obesity prevention. Our aim is to:

  • Identify state and local laws and ordinances that are effective in addressing childhood obesity disparities;
  • Educate school boards and city and state governments regarding the ways in which Latino youth are impacted by the obesity crisis;
  • Draft model policies and legislation that dismantle language and other barriers to accessing healthy food choices; and
  • Build relationships with community-based and other organizations engaged in childhood obesity prevention work.

MALDEF wants to ensure that Latino families have access to affordable healthy food choices, grocery stores, and farmers markets; that students have healthy food options and engage in adequate physical activity in schools; and that children can play outdoors in recreational areas and parks because it is safe and the infrastructure exists in their neighborhoods to be able to do so.

Click below to learn more about the work of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity and our allies who are helping to reverse this epidemic.

This video is reproduced here with written permission from Salud America! The RWJF Network to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Children (

Resources and Studies

Websites and Links

i. Ogden, C.L., Carroll, M.D., Curtin, L.R., Lamb, M.M., and Flegal, K.M. (2010). Prevalence of high body mass index in US children and adolescents, 2007-2008. JAMA. 303(3):242-249.
ii. Ogden CL, Carroll MD and Flegal KM. “High Body Mass Index for Age Among US Children and Adolescents, 2003-2006.” Journal of the American Medical Association, 299(20):2401-2405, May 2008.
iii. Narayan KMV, Boyle JP, Thompson T J, et al. “Lifetime Risk for Diabetes Mellitus in the United States.” Journal of the American Medical Association, 290(14):1884-1890, October 2003.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund