Food for Thought - Changing the Hispanic Lifestyle for Healthier Children

Food for Thought - Changing the Hispanic Lifestyle for Healthier Children

When it comes to our children we would do anything for them. They are the reasons we work overtime, work multiple jobs and push ourselves to the limit. We make these sacrifices so we can provide them with the things we never had to show them how much we love and care for them. In the Hispanic culture; food is one of the most influential and abundant aspects in our lives. Our culture has used food as its foundation for nurturing our people for many years. As the healthcare industry has evolved we are know able to see that this lifestyle has hindered our children and left people to develop a prejudice that Hispanics encourage their children to believe that being overweight or obese is okay. A prejudice is defined as “a distinguishing characteristic of a prejudice, as opposed to an ordinary opinion or belief, is that it reflects only the feelings within an individual, without regard to facts. This willful disregard of reality usually leads to the use of stereotypes, or oversimplified generalizations, about the group against which the prejudice is directed”, (Funk and Wagnalls). The heart of the matter is that our culture lacks the knowledge to break this cycle.

In earlier times it was common for families to have numerous children. With the lack of healthcare, money, and resources children in general were needed to help out around the house to maintain it and secure a living for the family. When looking back into the Hispanic culture we see that a sign of a healthy child was for them to be “fat”. A mother would have been criticized and even found to be neglecting her children if they were thin. This stigma has lasted through today where health research has finally had the courage to address this cultural issue. The healthcare industry has brought this topic up as a source of neglect. Should parents be charged with neglect if their child is overweight or obese? We know that this lifestyle can lead to complications in our child’s future; that is why doctors are encouraging easier access to knowledge for all Hispanics. The only way to fight childhood obesity is to teach children early and help parents learn now.

Through out Hispanic history, families have usually been middle to lower class citizens. Hispanic children typically come from blended families that consist of grandparents, parents, siblings and even other family members living under the same roof. When providing meals for such a large amount of people items usually chosen are ones that are inexpensive and can be made into large quantities with very little. Examples of these items are: breads, rice, pastas, potatoes, beans; when cooked these items can sustain a person for long time. As parents divide the food amongst everyone the portion given is greatly encouraged to be eaten completely. There will be no wasting of food when parents work so hard to get it. We also use food to reward our children for good behavior or to show that we love and care for them by taking them to get a special treat.

In society today we have grown into a tech savvy and fast food world where everything is done for us. Entertainment for children now is watching television, playing video games, playing on the computer and other non active forms of activities. Children today do not know how to use their imaginations nor do they play outside all day like we used to as children. Parents can now purchase fast food instead of making healthy or home cooked meals. Our children have now set a new record high in this country for childhood obesity rates. “While some individuals may have an inherited predisposition to gain weight, public health experts say that the increase in obesity rates stemmed primarily from social and behavioral changes: more and more people were pursuing an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and consuming high-fat foods. In the world as a whole in 2005, according to WHO estimates, at least 20 million children under the age of five, and about 1.6 billion adults (defined as persons age 15 or more), were overweight, while at least 400 million adults were obese” (Funk and Wagnalls).

The Hispanic community today is striving to teach its people that healthier choices are necessary for a better tomorrow. We see a rise in diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases and the obvious obesity but still we lack the knowledge to change our ways. Schools have now implemented healthy lunch options for kids, but have cut back on recess and physical education programs. Organizations such as the YMCA have strayed from helping low income families out in the pursuit of recreational activities for there children by raising program fees. How do we change centuries old ideals? As parents we have to learn to make healthier choices for ourselves. When our children see us making better choices and lifestyle changes they will absorb these ideals and pass them on to their children and future generations.

Works Cited
"OBESITY." (n.d.): Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia. EBSCO. Web. 24 Sept. 2011.
"PREJUDICE." (n.d.): Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia. EBSCO. Web. 24 Sept. 2011.