Representing USDA on a panel at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s (MALDEF) Fourth Annual Latino State of the Union in Washington, D.C. was a remarkable experience. The event examined how American public policy affects the Latino community, and assessed how future policy can lead to a better quality of life for Latinos.
While the discussions covered a range of topics important to the Hispanic community, much of conversation was dedicated to how childhood obesity is impacting educational attainment, future talent, and workforce capacity of not just Latinos, but of our entire nation.
As the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign has pointed out, childhood obesity rates have tripled in the last three decades. While one out of every three children in America is overweight or obese, 40% of Latino and African-American children are experiencing this epidemic. Since Latinos comprise the fastest growing and youngest demographic in the country, it is critical to connect how solving obesity among Latinos will also enable us to solve childhood obesity for our whole country.
The Obama administration’s commitment to making the health and well being of children a top priority is clear, and efforts are already making an impact throughout our rich diversity of communities. From the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, to Let’s Move!, to a completed USDA Community Roundtable Tour visiting food insecure states, each is getting us one step closer to eradicating childhood obesity. And while our country cannot solve this challenge overnight, our hope and confidence in realizing this dream is certainly, each and every day, looking better and better.
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