Impact of a Health Intervention in Latino Children in Central Ohio
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Human Nutrition Honors Theses; 2006
Background: According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 15.3% of all American children between the ages of 6 and 11 are overweight and the prevalence of overweight children is disproportionately higher among Mexican-American children (1). The percent of overweight Mexican-American children ages 6 to 11 is 23.7%, significantly higher than the 11.8% for non-Hispanic whites (1). Overweight and obesity lead to an increase risk of many severe health problems and morbidities including diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Jump into Food and Fitness (JIFF), an intervention program targeted for elementary school-aged children, was developed by the 4-H Youth Development team at Michigan State University Extension is designed to educate children ages 8 to 11 about healthy food choices, nutrition, and physical fitness, and is modifiable for younger or older children (2). JIFF was not designed specifically for Latino children, and its implementation to the Latino community is a recent application in community nutrition research. Purpose: The purpose of this research is to measure the success of the intervention with a group of Latino children, as well as to develop and pilot an evaluation tool for this intervention. Procedure: In order to investigate the impact of this intervention in Latino children, the program has been applied to a group of children whose parents attended free nutrition and exercise classes through Centro Esperanza Latina on the West side of Columbus. The children and their parents were a part of another research project conducted by researchers at The Ohio State University. For seven weeks the primary investigator, with the help of a regular childcare provider, applied JIFF to a group of 12 children for once a week for one hour. The piloted evaluation tool included a pre and post food behavior and physical fitness questionnaire created by the primary investigator. It also included seven individual evaluations to be conducted before and after each lesson in order to measure the impact of each individual lesson. The evaluations included asking questions and conducting activities for the children in order to measure acquired knowledge and skills, as well as behavior change. The classes, handouts, and parent newsletters were translated into Spanish. Findings: The piloted evaluation tools were successful in measuring acquired knowledge and short-term behavior change for this sample population. Variations of the evaluation tool may also be successful in measuring long-term behavior change with future implementations of other curriculum. The evaluation tools indicate that the sample populations did not consistently retain knowledge acquired during each lesson of the JIFF curricula and pre and post behavior change was inconsistent for this sample. Conclusions: Education through school, after school programs, or other types of intervention could benefit the health of many overweight children; however, evaluation of these programs is critical. The evaluation tool could potentially be used for assessment of the impact of JIFF on other populations and variations of the piloted evaluation tool could also be used to measure the success of a different health intervention targeting children.
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