Linking Stress and Obesity in Latino Children




Jose Cardenas: Coming up next on Horizonte. Tackling stress and obese night Latino children. We'll take you to the city's only bilingual bookstore. That's straight ahead on Horizonte.
Jose Cardenas: Good evening and welcome to Horizonte. Thank you for joining us. According to the center of disease control toxic stress has been linked to risky health behaviors, early death and chronic health conditions. “Saludable” is a pilot study designed for children ages 8-13 to tackle the link between obesity and toxic stress in Latino Children. Joining us to talk more about this study is the Dr. Celina Valencia, a postdoctoral public health and transnational research associate at the University of Arizona Zuckerman College of Public Health. Welcome to Horizonte. You know, We don't think too much about kids having this kind of stress, it's a little unusual. But there are studies that indicate that there are connections between the health conditions and their stress.
Dr. Celina I. Valencia: When you think about children age 8 to 14, you don't any about the stress they incur in their daily lives. And the children we're dealing with are stress linked to food instability.
Jose Cardenas: Which is turn is linked to poverty.
Dr. Celina Valencia: It is linked to poverty and it is linked to obesity. That is counter intuitive, when you think of somebody that worries that they may not get to eat three meals a day and developing obesity. That doesn’t make a lot of sense. But what we’re looking at is that perhaps that pathway that takes us from food security to obesity might be stress. We know that poverty is stressful, and we know that not knowing where your next meal is coming from is stressful.
Jose Cardenas: And what may be happening for these kids is because they don’t know when their next meal is coming, they’re eating more than they would normally eat.
Dr. Celina Valencia: Correct. We're teaching about more skills like yoga. In conjuction with other activities that help the heart health and the general health. Mindfulness as a way to tackle the stress they're dealing with and take a moment and sever that link between stress and obesity.
Jose Cardenas: Before we get into more details about the process, tell us how the study itself is structured.
Dr. Celina Valencia: Okay, so Saludable is a six-week--
Jose Cardenas: And we should mention that “Saludable” means healthy.
Dr. Celina Valencia: Correct, Yes, Saludable means healthy. So this is work actually an extension of "Juntos Por Salud", “Together for Health” in english mobile clinic. This is a mobile unit that provides preventive health screenings to underinsured Latinos across the state of Arizona. Saludable is an extension of the work with children in these communities. We have a six-week curriculum, so it's an hour-long session once a week. For 30 minutes we give information on health topics for the children and then the other 30 minutes we teach them yoga and we teach them mindfulness exercises. That's what our curriculum is doing right now.

Jose Cardenas: As you're talking, we put pictures on the screen of the students. And it looks like some of them were doing exercises. Their hands are up?
Dr. Celina Valencia: Correct. They do yoga for 20 minutes. They do the downward dog and all the traditional things you think of with yoga. We teach the children that and we tell them and encourage them to do these exercises in their own life, and we have gotten reports that these kids are continuing to do the yoga at home outside of the lessons.
Jose Cardenas: And in the pictures where they're all sitting down. It looks like around one of the facilitators. Do you have student facilitators?
Dr. Celina Valencia: Yes.
Jose Cardenas: What's going on there?
Dr. Celina Valencia: In that picture they're learning about their hearts and they're taking their own pulses and feeling the beat of their own hearts as part of a way to make their heart real to them. Cause you know, When you're eight years old that's abstract to think about your heart beating and keeping you alive.
Jose Cardenas: How many children are we talking about?
Dr. Celina Valencia: So we have 20 children, in Maricopa county and 40 children in Pima County who have graduated successfully from the first Saludable session.
Jose Cardenas: So you've indicated at least one of the results of the study is that they're employing some of these stress reduction techniques like the yoga before some major event. What else have you come up with?
Dr. Celina Valencia: So, we've also seen changes in their weight. Tackling obesity, one of their data measures that we're collecting is height and weight. We have seen them lose weight from the first data collection and the sixth week data collection session. In that time those sixth week session children will loose weight. We've see children's cholesterol levels drop and we’ve seen infograms of blood glucose.
Jose Cardenas: One of the surprises in the study, you have kids who aren't obese by any measure, but they have high cholesterol.
Dr. Celina Valencia: Yes, we did find in normal-weight children that were participating in the study, that they had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. So it's really interesting about this is that pediatricians or school nurses, they're not typically screening for those health outcomes among normal-weight children. That’s very interesting because we saw that in a rural population in Maricopa county. And we also saw that in some of our Urban children in Pima county.
Jose Cardenas: We're almost out of time, but the distinction between the urban and the rural kids and how it was received by their parents?

Dr. Celina Valencia: It's been very interesting. The rural population. This is their first—they-- The parents have indicated this and but also our community partners in Agila, the rural population in Maricopa County have indicated.
Jose Cardenas: Avila is the town?
Dr. Celina Valencia: Yes, that's correct. So this is the first time these health topics have been discussed with their children. So they've had a very warm reception with Saludable and they've been welcoming to us in their community and we’ve been very thankful to them. Versus pima country where their children has maybe had a health class or this is not the first time they’ve been hearing about yoga and mindfulness. While they were welcoming in the urban setting, they are exposed to more in the city than a rural town.
Jose Cardenas: And make sense with the efficacy in this program?
Dr. Celina Valencia: We're seeing improvements across all of our children, which is wonderful to see the positive health out comes. But the rural children talk a little ‘bout more the excitement around meeting university of Arizona students and learning about yoga and implementing that in their own lives.
Jose Cardenas: It's expanding their horizons in many way.
Dr. Celina Valencia: Correct. And we’re finding the mothers, in the town of Agila, are asking us to start a mother health group. We're finding a lot of need and wants in the communities to teach mindfulness to Latinos.
Jose Cardenas: Thank you so much.
Dr. Celina Valencia: Thank you for having me.
Jose Cardenas: Coming up next sounds of cultura. An exhibition that crosses borders between past and present.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports toxic stress has been linked to risky health behaviors, early death and chronic health conditions. “Saludable” is a pilot study designed for children ages 8 – 13 to tackle the link between obesity and toxic stress in Latino Children. We are joined by Dr. Celina Valencia, a postdoctoral public health and transnational research associate at the University of Arizona Zuckerman College of Public Health.

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In this segment:

Dr. Celina Valencia, a postdoctoral public health and transnational research associate at the University of Arizona Zuckerman College of Public Health.

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