The obesity epidemic in the United States has significant prevalence in both the Latino and the disabled populations. When both of these factors are present, there is a virtual perfect storm for obesity risk. Spina bifida is the most common permanently disabling birth defect in the United States. In San Diego, over 70 percent of the spina bifida population is Latino, and more than half the affected families are primarily Spanish speakers. Over the past few years, in response to feedback from parents and pediatric patients, Spina Bifida San Diego has recognized the need to address the weight issues facing our affected pediatric patients.
We have created—and are growing—a network of patient and family stakeholders who are invested in identifying the obesity issues facing our predominantly Latino spina bifida population, through structured focus meetings facilitated by a nutritionist and a bilingual assistant. We are working with community investigators in obesity research to create a panel of patients, parents, caretakers, and researchers; those individuals provide the self-motivation, dedication, and meaningful solutions needed to address the prevention and resolution of obesity in this high-risk population.