Jeremy Olson writes about children and families, and is an overscheduled father of two. His blog tackles the best and worst of parenting, families, health and love. He wants to hear from you - what's going on in your house?
Hoping to stoke the teamwork and competitiveness in local Hispanic families, Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota has offered a family pedometer challenge as a way to tackle the rising rate of obesity in Hispanic children.
Participating families receive two pedometers to track their weekly walking and running. Those who reach their weekly step goals are rewarded with free participation in a Zumba fitness class -- which is a low-impact form of aerobics set to a variety of Latino music.
The effort is in response to the rising rate of childhood obesity in Minnesota, said Dr. Julie Boman, a Children's pediatrician. She hosted an informational event on obesity prevention last week that was targeted specifically to Hispanic families. The focus fits with her experience working with Hispanic families in Ecuador as part of the Peace Corps. along with her earlier clinical work in southern California.
The ethnic and racial disparity when it comes to childhood obesity is evident in a new report that Children's released today on the problem. 18% of the Hispanic preschoolers (ages 2-4) in Minnesota's WIC program for low-income families are obese.
Not only is childhood obesity more prevalent among Hispanics in Minnesota, but there is research showing that Hispanics are more predisposed to obesity complications such as Type 2 diabetes, she said. Other studies have found that these diseases are tougher to combat when they emerge in childhood.
Immigrant families particularly struggle -- sometimes because they have less income to afford healthy goods and sometimes because of the cultural transition, Boman said. "You come here and there's not as much walking. They live in neighborhoods where there isn't as much play space and there is an abundance of cheap food that can make you fat quick."
Boman said the response to the new program, and to the informational session last week, has been remarkable. Invitations were spread through area churches, social service organizations and medical clinics.
"Most of them aren't going to take off and join Lifetime Fitness, but there are other ways to do it," Boman said. "We're trying to get people to motivate themselves. They're so hungry for education and information and motivation and support."