HSC in the News: Childhood Obesity

March 16, 2007

by Tara Kennon, HSC Writer & Publications Coordinator

Latino and African-American communities in Chicago face tremendous health disparities, including rates of childhood obesity and asthma more than double the national average. It’s great to see local media really address this issue and report on the remarkable efforts that parents are making to reverse these trends.

HSC’s Rochelle Davis and Guillermo Gomez are quoted extensively in an article by Taryn Luntz of Medill News Service that appeared in multiple publications this week, including the Chicago Defender and Chi-Town Daily News. The Times (Northwest Indiana) ran an abbreviated version.

The story highlights the seriousness of the problem and parents’ efforts to address it:

In Chicago’s black and Hispanic neighborhoods, parents, schools and community leaders are making small changes that could add up to a big improvement in children’s health.

“The Latino and African-American communities across the nation are in a state of epidemic,” said Guillermo Gomez, father of a Chicago public school student and the Chicago director for the Healthy Schools Campaign, a children’s health advocacy group.

“You can’t put it any other way. There’s an epidemic in these communities in the area of obesity and health disparity. Once parents understand that, there’s no other way but to come out and help and to try to make a difference.”

One of the ways HSC is addressing these health disparities is by organizing Parents United for Healthy Schools/Padres Unidos Para Escuelas Saludables, a coalition of more than 30 independent parent and community organizations representing eight Chicago communities.

PUHS recently brought together parents, principals and community leaders to share ideas at a breakfast for school wellness and is training parents to be active in local school wellness councils. If you’d like to get your organization involved, contact Guillermo Gomez at 312-419-1810.

Plus: Fox News interviewed Guillermo yesterday for a news segment on childhood obesity that is expected to air Wednesday, March 21, at 9 p.m. Stay tuned for more details!