Obesity Risk Twice as High in Hispanic Children

tape-measure.jpgMaria Nadel, our Spanish translation expert is putting the finishing touches on our ‘mind & body’ media literacy log as Shaping Youth’s “Dare to Compare: A Gross Out Game for Good Nutrition” kicks off a new session with 5th graders this Friday.

Evidently, not a moment too soon…

A study published in the American Journal of Public Health finds that young Hispanic children are twice as likely as African-American or white children to be overweight or obese.

Our newest counter-marketing and obesity prevention session is at a Title One school in San Bruno serving a 52% Hispanic population with close to half the students (43%) in the Free/Reduced Lunch Program.

Why do these stats matter?

Over the last two decades climbing national trends in childhood obesity reflect this socioeconomic and racial/ethnic relevance, as cheap fast food and ‘every corner’ convenience factor into the mind and body media mix.

Energy balance (the buzz phrase for measuring ‘get off your duff’ activities against how many sodas-n-snack packs kids are slamming) is impacted by safety of neighborhoods where outdoor play is less likely and parks can be dicey.

Not sure how much of the community environs apply to students in our preteen ‘living lab’ at Allen Elementary school, but we’re excited about taking a shot at intervention in an ‘at risk’ ethnic group for youth obesity.

I wrote a bit about peer pressure and junk food last month and how ‘tweens’ are extremely vulnerable to media messaging in this arena, so it makes sense that we incorporate our counter-marketing tactics into media literacy and health sciences.

Today, there’s yet another NEW study saying ‘tween girls’ 9-12 are highly ‘at risk’ for obesity—geez, are any kids NOT ‘at risk’ with all the bombardment of ads for junk food? C’mon, get real.

Whether it’s a reality tv show or a new media trend that’s current with kids, we tap into marketing motivators and use the same techniques to deconstruct the message and intervene before childhood obesity sets in.

So in this case, we’re using a faux-Fear Factor format and tactile sensory taste-tests.

We chop up the popular junky snacks and beverages being marketed to them with clever advertising, portion distortion, celebrity ‘pitch pythons,’ favorite athletes and media and serve them back to kids in a shall we say…’different’ form. (‘ewww’)

For this specific school, we dumpster-dived to pull samples of the highly processed packaged foods they were eating at lunch…

Then, we hired a nutritionist to dissect the ingredients…

And now we’ll use that data to have kids ‘build’ what they’re putting into their bodies from scratch, so they can visually SEE what they’re noshing on!

We use tons of tactics, but ‘dissecting’ is always a fave.

We chatted with kids at lunch, to hear what they watch and how they consume media AND food favorites and tip us off to ‘best practices’ in counter-marketing.

We do this with every media trend that marketers come up with, from vitamin water to energy bars, fruit leathers, sports drinks and ‘baked’ chips of all kinds so kids can use their eyes, ears and common sense for critical thinking and healthier choices.

Subversive, eh?

This session Shaping Youth is counter-marketing ‘liquid candy,’ (high fructose corn syrup), which is rather timely since Kraft is being sued for falsely calling Capri Sun ‘all natural’ as of today!

Capri Sun tops our hit list for counter-marketing to these particular 5th graders since these ‘juice pouches’ aren’t juice at all.

The school’s trash cans were brimming with bright foil and straws of “flavored juice drink blends.” At 110 cals a pop, this is indeed ‘liquid candy’ that can pack on the pounds without satisfying much less fortifying.


“Capri Sun All Natural Coastal Cooler Strawberry Banana”

Set a clear glass with 5 teaspoons of sugar in front of a child and see if they want to take a swig.

They may ‘dare’ from peer bravado, but they’ll get the point quickly, as that’s the actual breakdown of this particular Capri Sun…

It translates to the equivalent of 3 tablespoons of liquid corn syrup.

We also have kids ‘create’ their own Capri Sun to emphasize it’s “sugar water in a pouch” being sold back to them as skateboarding, windsurfing, paragliding coolness.

It’s fun to stir up excitement about eating a healthier diet and lift the veil on the media and marketing messages. Kids gobble up the engaging format and retain the message with measurable outcomes.

Oh, and if you try this at home?

Salt works even better…Deconstruct those sports drinks they’re chugging from the vending machines that have replaced sodas in the schools!

Which reminds me, CSPI just released data you can take to your school showing those ‘beverage contracts’ for school funding are not so lucrative either. Quél surprise!

Don’t forget the other first steps you can take: TALK to kids about media and marketing with our tip sheet to deconstruct junk food messaging.

Deconstruct a cereal box with PBS Kids “Don’t Buy it” media literacy interactive game

Visit info-packed sites like Media Literacy Clearinghouse to give kids the tools to be their OWN counter-marketers.

p.s. Many have asked when our various ‘m-power’ media enrichment games will be downloadable as turnkey content kits. We’re working on it!

Right now we’re filming a demo dvd to ‘train the trainer’ so anyone can run the programs.

We’re also working on making our counter-marketing downloadable as ‘short sheets’ for ANY parent, youth group, or slumber party for that matter!

They’re a lot of fun, and in development now. Stay tuned…



  1. lots of americans and europeans are getting obese these days because of over-eating. people should be controlling what they eat or they should workout their body to burn fat.

  2. Obesity and diabetes is a growing problems nowadays. It is caused by todays lifestyle which does not involve lots amount of exercise. Most people are just happy sitting in their office chair and they do not even want to sweat.

  3. Obesity is really an epidemic these days. People have become very lazy and does not want to exercise anymore. I do a lot of jogging and brisk walking everyday just to be fit and healthy.

  4. here in Philippines, obesity is also becoming a problem. More and more children are getting obese due to a lifestyle that is not fully of physical activities. most kids just wants to watch TV, play computer games and surf the net.

  5. Obesity and diabetes are becoming more and more of a problem these days. Actually it is easy to avoid being overweight by just having the proper diet and exercise.

  6. Lorenzo Gutierrez says

    Obesity is such a big problem now a days and so much sugar in our products is one of the reasons.

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