In affirming its support for Hispanic Heritage Month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, highlighted the health challenges facing the Hispanic community; challenges the supplement and functional food industries have some potential to address.
The FDA and the Alliance yesterday used Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from 5 September until 15 October, to restate their commitment to providing good health for Hispanic families.
"Access to high quality health care that is affordable, as well as accurate and timely health information, are important goals to achieve to start families on the road to good health," said Dr. Jane Delgado, president and CEO of the Alliance.
She pointed out the stark challenges facing this community, including the fact that Latinos living in the United States have high rates of eye disease and visual impairment, that one-third of Hispanics with diabetes are undiagnosed and that among all Americans with high blood pressure, Mexican Americans are less likely than whites or African Americans to know that they have it.
Indeed, a recent survey by the Natural Marketing Institute found that Hispanics believe themselves to be much more deficient in nutritional ingredients than other US populations.
For example, around a fifth of them thought they were lacking in calcium, compared to just over a third of other individuals, and almost double the number of them thought they were lacking in protein compared to the rest of the US population.
Moreover, the Hispanic population is known to receive less healthcare than other sectors of the population, and a recent study found nearly a third of Latino children are overweight - most of these have at least one risk factor for type 2 diabetes or heart disease.
This is surely where supplement and functional food makers could step in - as some have done already - and create products to address the health concerns of this population.
Food makers, who have already started to tap into this market include Kefir maker Lifeway Foods that launched La Fruta drinkable yogurt product line, PepsiCo-owned SoBe with Fuerte, a mango and passionfruit beverage with herbal extracts under its Powerline range and Mott's that launched Clamato Energia an energy drink for the Hispanic consumer.
Moreover, this is a growing market. According to a recent report entitled "Hispanics and Food" by Mintel, the US Hispanic population grew by 67.5 percent between 1990 and 2002, compared to 8.1 percent for the non-Hispanic population, with the population now standing at 38.8 million. "If the current rate were to continue, Hispanics would make up nearly one out of five US residents by 2012," said the survey.