Childhood obesity affects children across all ages and genders. However, Latino children and adolescents are at an increased risk, with one out of three Latino children (ages 2-19) being classified as overweight. Physical inactivity is deemed a major factor contributing to the energy imbalance that leads to excess adiposity. The aims of this study are twofold: 1) to present relevant research regarding Latino children’s physical patterns, influences on their physical activity, and interventions designed to promote physical activity and fitness in this population; and 2) to discuss implications derived from this research to help health educators, practitioners, and policy makers increase awareness, and to motivate and enable Latino children to adopt an active lifestyle. Research reveals that Latino children and adolescents are consistently less active than their white counterparts. Latino girls are, in particular, at an increased risk for inactivity. Few studies have investigated the factors that contribute to low levels of physical activity among Latino children. Moreover, few physical activity interventions have involved Latino children. Some of our recent research studies have filled some gaps, including providing information on what physical activities Latino children like, what they intend to do, what they are actually doing, and where and when they do physical activity. Based on our research and review of related literature, we made specific physical activity recommendations for researchers, practitioners, and policy makers. These individual points should be applied and integrated within a broad framework and used in combinations to develop multi-component, coordinated approaches to enhancing physical activity among Latino youth.


We would like to acknowledge the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Salud America! for their support during the preparation of this manuscript.