The rate of obesity is higher than ever, and children especially are at risk, with more than 20 percent of 6- to 11-year-old youngsters qualifying as obese.
With these startling statistics in mind, USC School of Pharmacy associate professor Mel Baron has released Rosa Out of Control, the seventh book in his Spanish-English fotonovela series.
The comic-book style educational tool tells the story of Rosa, a single mother of two. All three are overweight, and Rosa is forced to confront the health implications when her son’s gym teacher approaches her about his weight gain and physical inactivity.
Rosa, who has held firm in the belief that “chubby” means “healthy,” soon realizes that changes must be made to reduce their weight. She decides to visit a local pharmacist to determine how the family members can drop excess pounds.
“The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to change your diet by including more vegetables, fruits and lean proteins in your meals and to exercise at least 60 minutes a day, five days a week,” the pharmacist advises.
The pharmacist also advises that the best way to help her children lose weight is to set an example by exercising and eating healthy foods. Rosa suggests making simple food swaps, such as trading soda for water and swapping red meat for poultry and fish.
The fotonovela also informs the reader that overweight children have a greater chance of becoming overweight and obese adults, which puts them at a higher risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and other health problems.
In the end, Rosa, her daughter and eventually her son begin to embrace a healthier lifestyle.
Baron uses the fotonovela format to provide information in a culturally sensitive way to at-risk populations. His health education tools fill knowledge gaps and convey details in a way that encourages changes in behavior.
The latest fotonovela joins the six others produced by Baron and his team at the School of Pharmacy. The others are Forgotten Memories (dementia); Fiesta Fiasco (medication compliance); Oscar and the Giant (pediatric asthma); Sweet Temptations (diabetes); What My Girlfriend Didn’t Know (birth defects); and Secret Feelings (depression).
Rosa Out of Control was written by Josefina Lopez, Gregory Molina, Gabriela Lopez de Dennis, Estefany Zendejas and Niraj Sharma, photographed by Mike Powers, produced by Gregory Molina and directed by Baron.
Support was provided by the School of Pharmacy, L.A. Care, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation, the USC Good Neighbor Campaign, Good Neighbor Pharmacy and CVS Caremark.