Obesity has been described as a national epidemic and is associated with a number of negative health outcomes, including higher rates of chronic disease (e.g., heart disease, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers), elevated health-care costs, decreased quality of life, and greater risk of premature death. Hispanics are disproportionally affected by obesity, having a 21% greater risk of being obese compared to non-Hispanic whites. One way to address obesity-related health disparities is through the creation of meaningful partnerships between academic institutions and community-based health organizations using an approach called community based participatory research (CBPR). OBJECTIVE: To establish a CBPR partnership between Northwestern University (NU) clinicians and researchers and the Chicago Hispanic Health Coalition (CHHC), a group of over 600 local health and social service agencies and community based organizations whose mission is to promote healthy behavior and prevent chronic disease and health disparities in the Hispanic communities of metropolitan Chicago. This partnership will jointly address racial health disparities among the Hispanic community as it relates to chronic stress and related cultural and environmental factors in the context of increasing engagement in obesity prevention and health promotion behaviors. STUDY DESIGN: We will form a collaborative research alliance, participate in capacity building, learning and professional development, and engage the Hispanic community through outreach and education. In Year 1, we will develop an advisory board, convene a community kickoff meeting, form a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between NU and CHHC, and host community forums for dissemination and outreach. In year 2 we will continue to have quarterly advisory board meetings and community forums. We will also develop an MOU with a second community based organization, Salud Latina. In year 3 we will continue quarterly advisory board meetings and community forums. We will also write and submit a grant proposal to build capacity within our developing alliance, enhance networks and infrastructure that will promote community-engaged research that not only takes place in the community, but involves the community;and foster preliminary work in health promotion and obesity prevention in the Hispanic community.
This work will advance understanding and community-academic aligned strategies and action plans to prevent and reduce obesity among the Hispanic community through better understanding the role of chronic stress.