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Taking Action to Prevent Obesity

The American Heart Association (AHA) participated in the National Council of La Raza’s (NCLR), the largest Hispanic civil-rights advocacy group in the U.S., annual conference in Orlando in late July as part of our effort to help all children grow up a healthy weight. .


Today, more than 23.5 million kids and teens in the United States — nearly one in three young people — are overweight or obese, putting them at risk for serious, even life-threatening, health problems. Childhood obesity disproportionately affects communities of color.  Latino youth are at higher risk with rates of 41.7 percent of males and 36.1 percent of females.  

Marla Hollander, National Partnerships Manager for Voices for Healthy Kids, along with Dr. Gil Dadlani, pediatric cardiologist and AHA board member, hosted a discussion with NCLR affiliate leaders to share opportunities on how our organizations can work together to ensure that Latino children have access to healthy food and physical activity where they live, learn and play.

The conference expo attracted over 20,000 attendees and included more than 125 exhibitors, connecting Central Florida’s Hispanic community to local service providers from health care to education.  AHA volunteers Annette Harrison, Kimby Jagnandan and AHA staff member Cecilia Curry-Ford were able to speak with attendees and provide informational materials, healthy recipes and register supporters to join the childhood obesity prevention movement.

Voices for Healthy Kids is a collaboration between the American Heart Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation working to engage, organize and mobilize people to help all children achieve a healthy weight. The organization is focused on supporting policy and advocacy efforts that advance five key strategies that will help all children experience healthy environments, no matter who they are or where they live:

  • Ensuring that all children enter kindergarten at a healthy weight.
  • Making a healthy school environment the norm and not the exception across the United States.
  • Making physical activity part of  the everyday experience for children and youths.
  • Making healthy foods the affordable, available and desired choice in all neighborhoods.
  • Eliminating consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages before the age of five.

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