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Extension > Family Matters > First Pilot of Program to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Youth Complete

Thursday, June 1, 2017

First Pilot of Program to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Youth Complete

By Alejandro Peralta Reyes, Project Coordinator

A University of Minnesota Extension project led by Family Development staff to improve the health of Latino youth in the Twin Cities metro area concluded its first pilot of the Padres Preparados, Jóvenes Saludables program this May.

four adults stand in the center of a tables arranged in a U shape
This photo shows an example of the calorie balance activity. The facilitator first demonstrates how to balance calories consumed with calories burned using a scale and food and activity models. Then participants give it a try.

Why Latino Youth?

Statistics show that the rates for obesity, diabetes, and other lifestyle-related conditions are disproportionally high among Latino youth in the United States. Although it’s difficult to determine the precise cause, it is suspected that the assimilation process may play a role. As Latino families assimilate into the culture of the U.S., they may adopt common but unhealthy lifestyle behaviors such as poor eating habits and low levels of physical activity.

Latino immigrants have a two-fold challenge when it comes to raising healthy children. They deal with both the usual challenges of emotional and physical development throughout adolescence, and also the variety of challenges associated with cultural and environmental transitions. It’s clear that parents play a pivotal role in establishing and solidifying lifestyle habits in their adolescent children in a way that will either increase or decrease their chances for preventable diseases.

A Culturally-Sensitive Curriculum

Considering parents’ challenges and pivotal role, a multidisciplinary team designed the Padres Preparados, Jóvenes Saludables program (in English, Prepared Fathers for Healthy Youth) to help Latino families with young adolescents make healthier choices related to eating and physical activity. The goal of the program is to lower rates of preventable diseases like diabetes and obesity.

Since the Latino Fathers Promoting Healthy Youth Behaviors began in March 2016, the team has convened a stakeholder advisory team, and adapted, pretested, and revised the pre-existing Padres Informados, Jóvenes Preparados curriculum. To adapt that curriculum using a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach, the team conducted focus groups with Latino fathers, mothers, and youth. Information from these focus groups were then used to inform the curriculum development process.

Each session in the new Padres Preparados, Jóvenes Saludables curriculum highlights important health habits and prepares parents to guide their children in making these decisions through positive parenting practices. The program always considers and brings into conversation the reality of these immigrant parents: They are raising their child in a culture that was not the one they grew up in themselves. The curriculum covers what unique challenges arise from this situation and what parents can do to overcome it.

The First Pilot

a Latina stands on one foot on the rung of an activity ladder stretched on the ground
Each session of the program
includes one physical activity.
Here, one participant is doing
a relay race with an activity ladder.
The pilot program of Padres Preparados, Jóvenes Saludables was conducted at the Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Minneapolis every Friday evening from March 10 to May 19, 2017. This program was divided into eight sessions that lasted approximately two and a half hours each. Each session included mini-lectures, hands-on activities, physical activity, cooking, and activity sheets to take home.
  • Session 1: Positive parenting practices and healthy habits
  • Session 2: Multiple cultures, active lifestyles
  • Session 3: Adolescent development and healthy foods
  • Session 4: Communication and limiting screen time
  • Session 5: Rules, expectations and healthy beverages
  • Session 6: Managing conflict and having healthy snacks
  • Session 7: Supervision and fast food
  • Session 8: Connecting with your child and family meals
Enrollment was limited to 10 to 14 families to ensure that the group would be able to get to know each other throughout the program. It was important that the same people were present each week. That way, the facilitators could build confidence and security between participants to speak openly and comfortably with each other about the challenges they face when it comes to raising a family. Facilitators called all of the families before each session to confirm their attendance and answer any questions they might have for that week.

The Extension team involved in this program has been meeting regularly throughout its implementation. The goal is to continue improving the program and making changes for the next implementation that will begin fall 2017. For more information about the project, including a timeline and list of who’s involved, visit Latino Fathers Promoting Healthy Youth Behaviors.

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