By Rebecca DeLaRosa, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California
A few weeks ago, Blanca, a community resident and leader, shared with me her diabetes story. Blanca’s diabetes began during her pregnancy when she developed gestational diabetes. Managing her diabetes is a day to day struggle and trying to live a healthy life isn’t always easy. She often sees the aggressive marketing of fast food and sugar loaded drinks in her community. She, like many working families, has a work schedule that often contributes to purchasing what is easily and cheaply available. It’s tough to find the time to stay healthy. Yet, despite these challenges, Blanca knows the harmful effects junk drinks can have on her body. So, she continues to share her knowledge in her community to push towards better health.
A disproportionate number of African Americans and Latinos live in food deserts and swamps, having limited access to healthy food and beverages, yet their neighborhoods are saturated with junk drinks and food. 1 It’s no coincidence these communities are at high risk from diseases caused by the overconsumption of sugary drinks. In addition, it doesn’t help that beverage companies engage in predatory marketing targeting these same communities. Not only are their marketing campaigns around ethnic holidays, such as Hispanic Heritage Month, and their #OrgullosoDeSer campaign, which markets canned sodas with Hispanic surnames, but they also directly target children and youth. African American children and teens see nearly twice the number of sugary drinks ads as their white peers. 2
Even though amputations due to diabetes can be prevented, we see that amputations in communities of color and low income are 10Xs 3 more than the general population. Rosa, a community resident, often reflects on the painful passing of her brother due to the lack of knowledge of his health condition. She now attempts to educate and empower her brother-in- law, who currently suffers from diabetes, on how to best manage his condition. This, of course, is a challenge, especially with the amount of marketing in her community and access to junk drinks and food. But Rosa doesn’t give up because she, like many community leaders, believes that education is power.
Change the Future
We at Latino Coalition for a Healthy California also believe in the power of education and we strive to empower communities across the state to make healthier choices. If we don’t act now, 50% of Latino and African American children will continue to get diabetes in their lifetime. By 2050 this would amount to approximately 34 million individuals in the State of California. 4 It’s time to #GetLoud and be part of the solution!
1 Harris JL, Schwartz MB, Brownell KD, et al. 2011. Sugary Drink FACTS: Evaluating Sugary Drink Nutrition and Marketing to Youth. New Haven, CT: Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, October. http://www.sugarydrinkfacts.org/resources/SugaryDrinkFACTS_Report.pdf. Accessed June 2013. 2 Sugary Drinks Fact Sheet, Harvard School of Public Health. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/sugary-drinks-fact- sheet/ v Harris JL, Schwartz MB, and Brownell KD. Evaluating Sugary Drink Nutrition and Marketing to Youth. 3 http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me- ln-diabetes- amputations-20140804- story.html 4 California Department of Finance Demographics Report http://www.reuters.com/article/us-california- population-idUSN0930091220070709