Research: Latino kids lack access to safe ‘active spaces’

Posted: Monday, July 08, 2013
Contact: Rick Carrillo, (210) 562-6500
Contact: Elizabeth Allen, (210) 450-2020

New video, infographic and research also highlight how shared use agreements and street-level improvements can help address obesity among Latino kids

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (July 3, 2013)—Latino kids often have limited access to safe gyms, fields, and playgrounds, but shared use agreements and street-level improvements can improve access to these “active spaces” in underserved communities and may help young Latinos become more physically active and maintain a healthy weight, according to a new package of research materials from Salud America! The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Research Network to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Children.

The new Salud America! “Active Spaces for Latino Kids” research materials start off with an in-depth review of the latest science on the U.S. Latino physical activity environment and policy implications based on that research.
The full package of materials also includes an original animated video and infographic.

A study shows that 81 percent of Latino neighborhoods did not have a recreational facility, compared with 38 percent of White neighborhoods. Fewer schools provided public access to their physical activity facilities in 2006 (29%) than did in 2000 (35%).

Shared use agreements—formal contracts between entities that outline terms for sharing public spaces for physical activity—have increased access to active spaces in Latino communities.
“Shared use agreements can help open school spaces to the public by protecting against liability and promoting shared costs and staffing,” said Amelie G. Ramirez, director of Salud America!, based at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. Salud America! is a national network of stakeholders seeking environmental and policy solutions to Latino obesity.

Other ways to increase use of active spaces include:
“Complete streets”—repairing sidewalks and installing street lights, trails, and bike lanes—also can help Latino families walk and bike more safely to active spaces.

  • Studies show that more people walk or bike to active sites when those sites are closer to home and safer to travel to.
  • Evaluating the characteristics of active spaces can ensure those spaces (and new ones) meet Latinos’ cultural needs.
  • “Open streets” close off all vehicular traffic and create safe, inviting active spaces for residents.
  • A program in a Latino-majority urban area of Chicago used an open streets model that closed streets to vehicles and allowed 10,000-plus residents to walk, run, and bike.

The new research package is the third of six new research material packages by Salud America!, each of which focused on a specific topic on Latino childhood obesity:
  • healthier school snacks;
  • better food in the neighborhood;
  • active spaces;
  • active play;
  • healthier marketing (coming August 2013), and
  • sugary drinks (coming August 2013)

Each topic’s package contains: a research review, an assessment of all available scientific evidence on the topic; an issue brief, a short summary of the research review; an animated video narrated by Latino children; and an infographic, a visual summary of the topic.

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Salud America! is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Founded in 2007, the program aims to educate and support researchers, decision-makers, community leaders, and the public in contributing toward healthier Latino communities and seeking environmental and policy solutions to the epidemic of Latino childhood obesity. The network is directed by the Institute for Health Promotion Research at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. For more information, visit www.salud-america.org.

The Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio investigates the causes and solutions to the unequal impact of cancer and chronic disease among certain populations, including Latinos, in South Texas and the nation. The IHPR, founded in 2006, uses evidence-guided research, training and community outreach to improve the health of those at a disadvantage due to race/ethnicity or social determinants. Visit the IHPR at http://ihpr.uthscsa.edu. Please visit our blog or follow us @SaludToday on social media.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable, and timely change. For more than 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org.



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