Food, Fun and Fitness
For Hispanic and Latino families, Salsa, Sabor y Salud encourages healthy eating and being more active through a culturally-based curriculum and Spanish instruction. It addresses the growing obesity rates and inactivity levels among Hispanic and Latino families in America.
Salsa, Sabor y Salud (Food, Fun and Fitness) is a national healthy lifestyles program for Hispanic/Latino families offered through the YMCA of Greater Kansas City. Developed by the National Latino Children’s Institute (NLCI) and Kraft Foods, Salsa, Sabor y Salud is designed to raise awareness of the importance of good nutrition, increase levels of physical activity and encourage healthy lifestyle habits for the whole family.
According to the American Medical Association, 38.2 percent of Hispanic children ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese, compared with 31.7 percent of all children in this age group. Salsa, Sabor y Salud works with families to promote the importance of achieving balance through healthier food choices and increased levels of physical activity.
The curriculum is based on four primary messages:
- Eat from all food groups every day
- Be sensible about portions
- Be physically active every day
- Take small steps for success
Salsa, Sabor y Salud has been motivating Latino families to live healthier lifestyles since it was developed in 2002. The program is fully bilingual, with bilingual staff who conduct the class in Spanish and English, depending on the participants. The eight-week interactive course incorporates a different theme based on traditional Hispanic and Latino culture each week. Participating families receive a free Y membership for the duration of the program.
As life presented Oralia and her husband with the challenges of jobs, home ownership and raising children, her waistline expanded and her energy levels were low.
“I was still cooking and eating the traditional foods we loved, the beef tacos, stewed meats, tortillas. All foods high in fat and salt, and I wasn’t exercising.” Her physician told her she had blood pressure problems.
“I’ll never forget because she asked ‘Do you care about your kids?’ and I thought, of course I do! Then she said, ‘Then you need to take care of yourself.’ I had never seen it quite that way before,” Oralia said.
Oralia was ready to make a change, but wasn’t sure where to begin. Until one day she accompanied a friend to a local clinic and heard about the Y’s Salsa, Sabor y Salud program taught in Spanish. Oralia signed up.
After a couple lessons, she began using her Y membership, free during the six-week Salsa program. She started with the treadmill, and then tried group exercise classes.
When the Salsa classes ended, Oralia had already changed her habits and had confidence to continue to lose weight.
“I was drinking more water, no soda. I ate out less. I decided to get a membership and include my family,” Oralia said. “The atmosphere at the Y is very friendly.”