The Latin American Diet Pyramid is third in the series of traditional diet pyramids developed by Oldways. It was originally released at the Latin American Diet Conference in El Paso, Texas, in 1996.

The Office of Minority Health recently relayed some eye-opening statistics about Hispanics and obesity, okespanol.com reported Monday. Among Mexican-American women, 78 percent are overweight or obese, as compared to only 60.3 percent of the non-Hispanic White women. Hispanic adults are also 40 percent less likely to engage in active physical activity than non-Hispanic Whites.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the diabetes death rate for Latinos that is almost one-and-a-half times higher than for non-Hispanic whites.

In order to combat these trends Oldways, a nonprofit food and nutrition education organization has developed a Latin American Diet Pyramid. Oldways has created the pyramid as a way to re-introduce some of the traditional and healthy Latino foods which sustained their ancestors.

According to Oldways, the pyramid is an educational guide which promotes a diet of affordable and easy-to-prepare foods and reflects the great range of culinary traditions, foods, and flavors of Latin America. Contrary to the traditional American food pyramid which promotes water as its first level, the base of the Latin American pyramid promotes exercise and even enjoying meals with others. The second level of the pyramid contains an assortment of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, herbs and spices. The third level consists of fish and seafood. The fourth level is dairy and the last level provides for a very small amount of meat and sweets.

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