Friday, May 24, 2024

Civil Rights Groups Taking Aim at Childhood Obesity

A coalition of leading civil rights groups in the nation, including the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) are uniting to help end the epidemic of child obesity.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is funding a $2 million initiative over the next 16 months which will aim to have the groups work individually and collaboratively to advance the public advocacy and policy changes critical to creating healthier communities.  The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and National Urban League (NUL) are also participating.

“These national organizations are coming together to take a stand,” Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Foundation, said. “They will help ensure that all communities benefit from the policy and environmental changes we know are necessary to reverse childhood obesity. Their unity speaks volumes about their commitment.”

The Hispanic community has high rates of obesity in general and the childhood obesity rate is alarming. Forty percent of Hispanic boys are overweight or obese.

“The disparate effect of childhood obesity on the Latino and African American communities is a national civil rights issue, with significant effects on the future American workforce that will sustain and continue to build our great nation,” Thomas Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel, said. “We must act now to address this problem in order to secure our national future.”

The announcement coincides with September’s designation as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.

“When two-fifths of Latino children are suffering from childhood overweight and obesity, it is not just a food problem—it is an issue that threatens the very future of this community and our country,” Janet Murguia, NCLR president and CEO, said.  “ As a nation, we must address the deep-rooted social and environmental factors that have left Latino children and families with a limited ability to access healthy, affordable foods and take charge of their own health and well-being.”

As part of the initiative, the groups are addressing childhood obesity through their own constituencies and are focusing on federal and state policies that can most impact child health, child nutrition and health disparities within their particular communities

PR Newswire