Despite significant improvements in the overall health of residents of the United States (US) over the past few decades, non-Hispanic blacks are disproportionately impacted by a myriad of chronic medical conditions including cancer, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. In addition, residing in the Deep South (e.g., Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina) is associated with poor health outcomes for adults and children. Nearly all of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the US are associated with obesity and unhealthy lifestyles (e.g., poor diet, physical inactivity). Nearly 80% of non- Hispanic black women and 29% of non-Hispanic black 2-5 year olds are overweight or obese. Research has tracked body mass index (BMI) and unhealthy behaviors from childhood to adulthood, increasing disease risk for the aforementioned chronic conditions later in life. This is particularly salient as 1 in 3 low-income children are overweight or obese before their 5th birthday. On the other hand, there is mounting evidence that obese children who later become non-obese adults, lower their risk of chronic disease to a level similar to people who were never obese as children. As such, early interventions that lead to the achievement of healthy weight, regular physical activity, and healthy diets may hold greater promise to slow or reverse the trajectory of elevated chronic disease risk. The proposed grant will utilize Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) to better understand the primary contributors of obesity among low-income non-Hispanic black women of childbearing age and their young children living in Jefferson County, AL. Further, we will develop relevant and evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies to promote health equity and improve health outcomes for this most vulnerable population.
The aims of the study are: (1) establish and maintain academic- community partnerships to better understand and address the role of obesity in disparities in maternal and child outcomes;(2) identify community assets, needs, and opportunities in order to identify a community- relevant interventions;(3) implement health education/promotion activities with low-income mothers and children;and (4) develop a long-term collaborative CBPR research agenda to reduce health disparities.
Mounting evidence has tracked body mass index (BMI) and unhealthy behaviors from childhood to adulthood, increasing chronic disease later in life. Early intervention with populations at highest risk (e.g., low-income, non-Hispanic black women of childbearing age and their young children) may slow or reverse the trajectory of chronic disease and reduce associated heath disparities. Academic-community partnerships hold great promise for developing and sustaining community-relevant prevention and intervention strategies.