Individuals of Hispanic ethnicity are experiencing significant rates of weight gain and obesity with approximately 75% of Hispanic adults age 20 - 60 years and 40% of Hispanic youth considered overweight. Although effective lifestyle approaches for weight loss have been demonstrated in some children, less is known about effective interventions for low-income ethnic minorities. Previous research has shown that motivational variables (autonomy, competence) related to intrinsic motivation and family variables (positive parenting styles including family warmth) are positively associated with adolescent weight loss behaviors, but few studies have integrated these novel constructs into effective interventions. Effective programs for Hispanic families are needed to address the health disparities evident in Hispanic families, the lack of successful community-based interventions in this population, and the increasing relevance of this problem to local and national policymakers;developing interventions to address rising levels of obesity and the related co-morbid conditions has become a priority for policy-makers and the general public. The purpose of this proposed project is to test the feasibility of a novel community-based intervention for managing obesity among low-income Hispanic families residing in Irving, Texas, as part of an ongoing community-based participatory research project to improve health called FIT for Health. The proposed project was developed through a strong coalition to reduce obesity sponsored the City of Irving, and therefore has tremendous capacity for influencing policy. Eighty families of Hispanic ethnicity will be randomized to either the FIT for Health Plus or FIT for Health Basic program. The FIT for Health Plus intervention is a novel intervention integrating motivational and family variables to reduce youth obesity, and improve physical activity and diet. The FIT for Health Basic program is a healthy lifestyle education program that is currently on going and will serve as a comparison condition. Families in both conditions will participate in 12 weekly sessions at the Irving YMCA. Findings from this feasibility study will provide information on community-based weight loss programs for primarily low-income Hispanic populations. Furthermore, due to the strong support of the City of Irving and the existence of an active community coalition, this program has the potential to influence health policy in mid-size cities. !
The proposed project has the potential to develop community-based programming to improve health behaviors in Hispanic families. Due to the health disparities and elevated rates of obesity in this population, effective programs to reduce obesity are needed.