San Antonio, Texas-based online platform Salud America! The RWJF Research Network to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Children has been granted a one-year $1.3 million award to fund research and education to decrease obesity in Latino children. The grant was given by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to support the online network, which includes about 10,000 parents, leaders, academics, and advocates.
The network is dedicated to making changes in the Latino community such as reducing childhood obesity through the implementation of environmental and policy solutions. The $1.3 million grant will be invested to foster policy changes, conduct national research, and provide new evidence and educational content.
“This new funding will allow us to further expand our content-creation capabilities to empower more people to make healthy changes,” said the director of Salud America!, Amelie Ramirez, Dr.P.H. “Our website and content will continue to be used by individuals and groups who choose to advocate directly for evidence-based governmental and corporate policies addressing Latino health.”
The goals established by Salud America! for this year include updating research findings on Latino childhood obesity, expanding research on other health issues affecting the community, launching new awareness campaigns in order to engage more people, developing multimedia content for its Salud Heroes series featuring success stories, as well as enhancing its social media through @SaludToday, Tweetchats and contests.
In addition, Salud America! also aims to enlarge the first-of-its-kind award winning website Growing Healthy Change, which was launched a year ago and currently includes an interactive map, new campaigns, videos and resources to support anyone willing to alter their habits and adopt healthier ones within their city, school, state or even the country. The network wants to launch new content, such as a revamped policy map, in which people can see what is happening near their address.
“Latino childhood obesity remains a national health threat, but we believe our research and multimedia educational content will continue to motivate people to push for healthy changes in their areas,” explained Ramirez, who is also a professor and director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Childhood obesity is a growing concern in America, and it is a reality for 38.9% of Latino children between 2 and 19 years old. Obesity also affects 35.2% of black children and 28.5% of white children.
The network believes that the Latino community faces higher challenges in gaining access to healthy food and exercise. Therefore, Salud America! wants to increase research, education and materials to reduce these barriers.
Salud America! has been focused in reducing obesity, and has developed the first-ever Latino research agenda while granting 20 research awards. In addition to leading Salud America!, Amelie Ramirez also started a research at the San Antonio Institute for Health Promotion, last year, to study the role of food in the decrease of cancer reoccurence risk.