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National Web Forum Aims to Mobilize Latino Community to Address High Obesity Rates

April 10, 2013

Oakland, CA – The nation cannot make substantial headway in the obesity epidemic unless it addresses disproportionately high obesity rates in the largest and fastest-growing population segment, the Latino community, particularly among children. To spur action, the Public Health Institute (PHI) will host a national web forum on April 16 on obesity prevention that will shine an urgently needed spotlight solely on why this is an important issue for the Latino community. The programming will air in both Spanish and English.

The free web forum, “Why Obesity Is Important to the Latino Community,” is a first-of- its-kind push to reach Spanish-speaking audiences via the web with information that is critical to their health and to connect health experts with community leaders on this pressing issue.

PHI invites the media to attend and publicize this important web event. Spokespeople will be available in Spanish and English for media interviews and background. Sponsors are PHI, The California Endowment, the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California and  Kaiser Permanente

“Why Obesity Is Important to the Latino Community”

Tuesday, April 16, 10:30 am – 12 pm (PDT)

Register and listen in English

“Por Qué Es Importante la Obesidad para la Comunidad Latina”

Martes, 16 de April, 10:30 am – 12 pm (PDT)

Registrar y escuchar en Español

“The need to mount a major prevention effort in the Latino community couldn’t be more evident,” said Carmen R. Nevarez, MD, MPH, PHI vice president for external relations and preventive medicine advisor as well as a former president of the American Public Health Association. “As obesity keeps increasing in the Latino community, more and more people are at risk for serious health conditions that threaten to shorten their lives and drive up the nation’s health care costs. This forum, which is by and for Latinos, aims to encourage communities to mobilize in ways that resonate with their culture, values and the environments they live in that influence the availability of healthy food and physical activity.”

The first in a two-part series, the event will air on PHI’s web platform Dialogue4Health. It builds on D4H web forums last year that were tied to the nationally televised “Weight of the Nation” documentary but will focus exclusively on Latinos.

More than one-third of all Americans are obese, but that number has been leveling off. In contrast, Latinos have higher rates of obesity and overweight in all age groups than the overall U.S. population, and instead of halting, the rates continue to climb. Latinos also experience more of the health consequences of obesity like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. 

The most disturbing trend, though, is the sharply rising obesity and overweight rates among Latino children. The National Council of La Raza projects grimly that if nothing is done to reverse the trend, one in two Latino children born in 2000 will develop a chronic illness during their lives. One-third of all US Latinos are children.

Concern about the obesity crisis among Latinos is underscored by the surging growth in their population numbers – up 46 percent in the last decade to more than 50 million people – and the social justice issues they face. Many Latinos live in low-income, under-resourced neighborhoods with inadequate access to nutritious food and places to be physically active.

Latinos also have the lowest medical insurance coverage and thus a low rate for covering the costs of prevention and treatment for obesity and chronic illness.

Evidence shows that communities can transform themselves into healthier places to live, work and play. For example, PHI’s Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program (CCROPP) has had success in changing the environmental conditions for nutrition and physical activity in the state’s Central Valley by engaging community members, influencing policymakers and working in partnerships.

Moderating the forum will be George Flores, MD, program manager for community health for The California Endowment. The featured speakers will be:

  • Michael Rodriguez, MD, MPH, a professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Family Medicine at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine
  • Rosa Soto, regional director, California Center for Public Health Advocacy
  • Genoveva Islas-Hooker, MPH, regional program director, CCROPP Program


To arrange interviews or learn more about the forum from Spanish- or English-speaking spokespeople, contact:

Carolyn Newbergh, PHI Communications, at 510-285-5557 or cnewbergh@phi.org

About the Public Health Institute

PHI, an independent nonprofit organization, is dedicated to promoting health, well-being and quality of life for people throughout California, across the nation and around the world. PHI's primary methods for achieving these goals include: sharing evidence developed through quality research and evaluation; conducting public policy and advocacy; providing training and technical assistance; and promoting successful prevention strategies to policymakers, communities and individuals. For more information, visit www.phi.org