“Apparently Hispanics are the group that’s growing the quickest, not only in population numbers but in weight! We’re number 1!” says iLatino host Enrique Santos.
In this tongue-in-cheek iLatino video, Santos and correspondent Casey Woods, explore the reason behind the increasingly high obesity rates among Latinos in the U.S.
“It’s no secret that America has a weight problem. The evidence is all around us," says Woods standing in front of famed Colombian artist, Fernando Botero’s sculpture of “Eve”. Botero is known for depicting elements from daily life with exaggerated and disproportionate volumes.
But, “who is the evil genius responsible for the Latin fatness explosion?” asks Woods. Apparently it’s a woman named Ines Calderon who works in a restaurant in Miami.
"Do you ever worry that your clients are getting a little too fat?" Woods asks Calderon.
"Yes, and for their health too. And I tell them but they say it's the food they like and they are happy," says Calderon.
iLatino's conclusion? “In the end those extra pounds and the problems that come with them may be just another part of becoming an American.”
The video may be satirical, but it brings to light a very real and serious problem: the increasing rates of obesity within the Latino community in the U.S.
In Texas, where more than 55 percent of the state's population is expected to be Hispanic by 2040, 75 percent of Latinos were overweight or obese as of 2009.
The data is similar in other states. In Colorado, nearly 41 percent of Hispanic adults are overweight and 25 percent are obese.
Obesity is especially worrisome among younger Latinos.
The Huffington post previously reported on the challenges Latino children face with the higher onset of obesity. As of May 2010, 38.2 percent of Hispanic children ages 2 to 19 were overweight or obese, compared with 31.7 percent of all children, according to the Leadership for Healthy Communities.
Although Ines Calderon is not to blame, Latinos may in fact be more at risk of being overweight because they often lack access to affordable healthy foods.
According to a recent brief by the Leadership for Healthy Communities titled "Making the Connection: Linking Policies that Prevent Hunger and Childhood Obesity", an answer to the increasing obesity rates may be found in establishing healthy food financing initiatives to increase access to nutritious foods.
Jennifer Ng'andu, deputy director of the National Council of La Raza's health policy project, believes "this is not just a health and exercise issue. This is an academic and social justice issue. This is about making sure people have access to information and resources so that they can make healthy choices."
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Patrons shop at the botanica San Lazarito in Jackson Heights, Queens. From New York to Los Angeles, from Chicago to Miami, particularly in hard economic times, shops specializing in the rituals of Afro-Caribbean and Meso-American religions offer a glimpse into how some of the latest arrivals to a nation of immigrants pursue their dreams
Botanicas are spiritual superstore of herbs, candles, oils, perfumes, baths, incense, animal skulls and amulets used in the rituals of Afro-Caribbean and Meso-American religions. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ydhsu/" target="_hplink"> Flickr Photo by ydshu </a>
Odette Pichardo points out a hot-selling love potion at from her botanica in the Washington Heights section of New York.
With the unemployment rate for Latinos at least two percentage points higher than the national average, many turn to spiritual tradition. Botanica shelves are stacked with fast-selling "Money Drawing Spell Kits," "Success" candles, and "Steady Work" and "Mr. Money" oils and colognes. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/listenmissy/" target="_hplink">Flickr photo by Listen Missy!</a>
No one knows exactly how many botanicas there are in the country. There are no formal licensure requirements or trade associations for shops that are part spiritual center, part religious supply house, part alternative medicine dispensary.
Shoppers survey the wares at a botanica in Miami, Florida.
Spray cans of oils used in the adoration of Santeria deities and other religious figures such as La Virgen De Guadalupe and Jude Thaddeus line the shelves of a Botanica store in Miami, Florida.
Olga Santiago Ocana chats with a customer in her botanica in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Botanicas offer many products for spiritual rituals, including herbs and roots to prepare medicinal teas and baths, including the ancient herb hyssop, saw palmetto extract and red clover. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/leicahooligan/5073226682/" target="_hplink">Flickr photo by leicahooligan </a>
Money has been an issue for the Botanica trade, which has not been spared by the bad economy. Still, some smaller botanicas survive, such as this one in northern Manhattan. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/paul_lowry/" target="_hplink">Flickr photo by Paul Lowry </a>