The childhood obesity epidemic represents a major health threat to the current generation of youth, and falls disproportionately on urban, Latino adolescents. Data suggests modern inner-city minority youth suffer from high levels of psychosocial stress, and that such chronic stress contributes to obesity and insulin resistance, increasing risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, fatty liver disease, and other obesity-related disorders. Guided imagery is a mind-body complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) modality that offers promise as a therapeutic intervention to reduce psychosocial stress, and also to promote healthy lifestyle behaviors. In a pilot 12-week lifestyle intervention, Interactive Guided Imagery significantly reduced salivary Cortisol, reduced sedentary behavior, and increased moderate physical activity in overweight Latino adolescents. The overall aim of this proposal is to determine the separate contributions of stress reduction guided imagery and health behavior guided imagery, when delivered in the context of a health-promoting, lifestyle intervention, on short-term and long-term stress-reduction and behavioral outcomes in predominantly Latino high school students. The study consists of a high school-based, 12- week lifestyle intervention in urban, predominantly Latino adolescents. The intervention features a health-promoting, lifestyle education class, combined with a group guided imagery intervention that is theoretically grounded in Self-Determination Theory (SDT). High school students are randomized to one of 4 intervention arms 1) Non-intervention control; 2) lifestyle education alone (LS); 3) LS + Stress Reduction guided imagery alone; 4) LS + Physical Activity/Healthy Eating guided imagery. Outcomes will be measured upon completion of the 12-wk intervention, and after an additional 6-month maintenance program. Primary outcomes will be change in salivary Cortisol patterns and changes in physical activity and dietary intake. Secondary outcomes are insulin resistance, body fat, carotid intima media thickness, metabolic syndrome, perceived stress, well-being (self-esteem, health related quality of life), and measures of mediation by SDT constructs. Results will demonstrate the isolated effects of the lifestyle education and the two different forms of guided imagery, and could shift the paradigm of obesity prevention and treatment in urban minority youth to include attention to social stress and promotion of well-being.
The childhood obesity epidemic, which falls disproportionately on Latino adolescents, represents a major public health threat to the current generation of youth, and therefore to the health of the nation overall. This project directly addresses the role of psychosocial stress in promoting obesity and metabolic disease risk, and investigates the role of the mind-body CAM intervention of guided imagery in both reducing stress and promoting healthy lifestyle behaviors that could dramatically improve the metabolic health of today's youth.
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