Meet the woman spreading the word that “gordito” doesn’t mean healthy
Twice a month, Claudia González heads into the Good News Care Center in Miami-Dade County, Florida and delivers free comprehensive health and nutrition information for Hispanics across a variety of ages and circumstances in a small classroom. As a registered dietitian and nutritionist, Gonzalez presents nutritional need-to-know-facts with every speech and hug given to the community that she feels needs it most.
“Growing up in Lima, Peru, I always played outside, ate healthy but was surrounded by people dieting,” recalls the 43-year-old. “I was always curious about how physical and mental activity met nutrition to create a healthy lifestyle and in college decided that I would spend my career helping others become informed about nutrition. There were only a few Latinos in my graduating class in college, so from early on I knew there was a need for people like me to work within the community.”
Now, as a successful nutritionist with an independent consulting practice, González delivers community-based nutritional counseling for the elderly, children and families in the Miami-Dade area. Although the majority of her clients are Mexican-American, she has extensive experience working with Latinos from across Latin America and the Caribbean. She’s also written a book shedding light on obesity among Latino children titled “Gordito Doesn’t Mean Healthy.”
González cites her interest in childhood nutrition as a reason she’s eagerly taken on the role of community advocate. “Nutrition isn’t intuitive and as a community, we have to teach our children to do their homework, go to bed early and approach food with a healthy mentality,” says the two-time Florida International University graduate. “There’s confusion about the role of food among Latinos and we don’t pay attention to what we eat – and there are real consequences to that in childhood and beyond.”
A new report on the chronic health conditions and nutritional intake of Mexican American adults released this week by The Centers for Disease Control and Health Prevention emphasizes the need for Latinos to begin and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The report found that nearly 40 percent of Mexican-American adults 20-74 years old were obese in 2010. This percentage of obesity was measured a solid 5 percent higher than the 35 percent obesity rate in 2006 – and with it, introduced a prevalence of obesity and diabetes among Mexican American adults.
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