New Healthy Kids Cards in English, Spanish and Vietnamese

UT MD Anderson Observes National Minority Cancer Awareness Week, 
April 14 – 20

MD Anderson News Release 04/16/14

As part of National Minority Cancer Awareness Week during April 14 to 20, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has developed a new series of pledge cards to assist parents in helping their children make healthier choices and lower cancer risks.

“Encouraging children to make healthier choices today helps ensure their bodies remain strong so they’ll be less likely to develop cancer as adults,” said Ernest Hawk, M.D., vice president of cancer prevention and population sciences at 
MD Anderson.

The set of four cards offers practical advice on how to get children to eat more fruits and vegetables, stay active, avoid tobacco and wear sunscreen. The public can find and download these complimentary resources online. Each card is available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Diet and exercise in diverse populations

“Rates of obesity tend to be higher among Hispanic and African American youth. Vietnamese-American youth also are at elevated risk of being overweight and obese, compared to other Asian American groups,” said Beverly Gor, Ed.D., an MD Anderson instructor who conducts research in partnership with CAN DO Houston, a program that focuses on improving nutrition, physical activity and healthy behaviors among children ages four to 12.

“Children who live in low income neighborhoods, regardless of their race or ethnicity, often face barriers to accessing good nutrition and physical activity because of the lack of healthy affordable food, and safe places for play and exercise in their communities,” Gor said.    

Through CAN DO Houston, Gor and other community leaders are addressing this problem. “Parents also can do their part by following the tips on these new cards when planning meals and family activities,” Gor said.

Sun safety in diverse populations

“Anyone can develop skin cancer,” said Mary Tripp, Ph.D., an instructor in Behavioral Science. “Sun protection is recommended for everyone, regardless of skin color.”

Excessive sun exposure during childhood increases a person's risk of developing skin cancer. “It's important for parents to teach children about sun protection and reinforce this healthy habit,” Tripp said.

Tripp, who has studied sun protection practices among children of melanoma survivors, is currently developing community programs to educate children and their families on how to practice sun protection. These programs also will include health education and outreach initiatives for diverse populations.

Tobacco use in diverse populations

More than 80 percent of adults who smoke daily began smoking before age 18. Just one cigarette puff can become a lasting problem for teens. 

Today, about 10 percent of African American and 17 percent of Hispanic high school students smoke. And, tobacco use among Vietnamese adult males in the United States tends to be higher than the rest of the population. As trendy new products, like e-cigarettes, flavored cigars and hookahs, gain in popularity among teens, these rates can potentially increase. 

“All tobacco products are dangerous,” said Alexander Prokhorov, M.D., Ph.D., creator of ASPIRE, a tobacco prevention and cessation website for junior high and high school students.

“Tobacco use at a young age can cause immediate issues, like bad breath, and even long-term health problems like cancer,” said Prokhorov. “So, it’s important for parents to educate children about tobacco dangers.”  

Cancer disparities still exist

Some minority populations are more likely than the general population to develop and/or die from certain types of cancer. And as the United States population continues to grow more diverse, this issue becomes even more important.

“An integral component of MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program is to develop and implement community‐based efforts in cancer prevention, screening, early detection and survivorship to achieve a measurable reduction in the cancer burden, particularly among the poor and underserved,” Hawk said. “These efforts are just some activities that MD Anderson is leading to proactively address the health needs of our community.”

The parent pledge cards can be found at