How Fake Food is Making Yaqui Kids Sick

Currently, the Yaqui adult population has a prevalence of overweight and obesity (O&O) of 71.5%. Sadly, Yaqui children are following this trend. A recent study found that nearly 4 out of 10 schoolchildren are overweight or obese.

How Fake Food is Making Yaqui Kids Sick
A child surrounded by a spread of ultra-processed foods including fries, a sugary drink, and packaged snacks.

A Yaqui child sits down to lunch. There's no vibrant spread of the fresh, wholesome foods our ancestors relied on. Instead, it's a factory-made feast: tortillas (yes, even those can be heavily processed these days!), fried beans drowning in questionable ingredients, a side of fries, maybe some overly-colorful packaged snacks, and a super-sized sugary drink to wash it all down. Because, apparently, water has somehow become the world's most boring beverage.

Sadly, this isn't an exaggeration. It's the everyday reality for many Yaqui kids. And it's not just the calories that are making them sick (though those are a problem too); it's the insidious effect of a heavily processed food diet. Here's the science, broken down and sprinkled with a bit of tough love:

  • Overweight & Obesity (O&O): This looms large in our community. A shocking 71.5% of Yaqui adults struggle with O&O. Now, our kids are on the fast track – a recent study found a 36.3% prevalence in Yaqui schoolchildren. That means nearly 4 out of every 10 kids are at risk for lifelong health battles.
  • Ultra-Processed Attack: Processed tortillas, sugary drinks, and those ever-so-convenient snacks may seem harmless, but they're like little armies invading our bodies, disrupting our metabolism, and spiking our risk of O&O and all the issues that tag along.
  • The Sneaky Car Effect: We often assume car ownership means affluence, which should mean healthier families, right? Not in this case. Yaqui kids living in car-owning homes who also ate lots of ultra-processed food had HIGHER rates of O&O. Occasionally, that drive-thru convenience is silently sabotaging our health.

Real Food is Our Future

The good news? We're not helpless puppets of the snack food industry. We can rewrite the future of Yaqui health by putting real, nourishing food back at the center of our kids' lives. How about:

  • Ditch the Drive-Thru, Date Your Kitchen: Forget those greasy takeout bags. It's time for kids to get hands-on, helping grandma or grandpa in the kitchen to revive our delicious, healthy traditional recipes.
  • Hydrate Right, With a Twist: It may sound basic, but swapping out those sugary drinks for water does a body good. Too bland? Jazz up your water with infusions of fresh fruits and herbs for a tasty flavor boost.
  • Community Champions: Let's support local farmers and markets. This doesn't just help our economy, but access to fresh, seasonal produce makes healthy family meals SO much easier.
  • Spreading the Word: Every conversation, every small change, matters. Talk to your family, your neighbors, and get people thinking about the power of real food!

This fight requires transforming both habits and priorities. Instead of kids raised on ultra-processed fare, let's work toward a Yaqui community where a new generation thrives on nourishing, vibrant meals. Our ancestors would be proud of us for reclaiming our heritage of health.

In-Text Citation: Oficina de Prensa y Colaboradores. "Consumo de alimentos ultraprocesados aumenta el riesgo de sobrepeso y obesidad en escolares yaquis". Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo (CIAD), 2 February 2024,