Presentation at the 2014 Active Living Research Annual Conference.
Background and Purpose
More than 39% of Latino children ages 2-19 are overweight or obese, compared to almost 32% of all U.S. children.(1) These high rates of obesity among Latino children are particularly alarming because Latino children currently comprise 22% of all U.S. youth—and are expected to grow to comprise 30% of the youth population by 2025.(2-3)
In response, Salud America! The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Research Network to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Children launched an online network in 2007 to mobilize four sectors of society (community leaders, researchers, policymakers and media) to collaborate to reverse the obesity epidemic. In its first five years, the network recruited more than 2,000 members and fed them with innovative video, online and e-communications.(4-5)
The network also made many research advancements: 1) Developed the first-ever Latino Childhood Obesity Research Priority Agenda; 2) Funded 20 grantee researchers; 3) Developed research briefs on Latino nutrition, physical activity and media/marketing issues; and 4) Developed the “Policy Contribution Spectrum” model.(6-7)
Based on its research success and the Spectrum model, Salud America! has created and is beta-testing a unique online platform that will expand its membership and activate them to create healthy lifestyle policy change to prevent and reduce Latino childhood obesity in the areas of: active play, active spaces, better food in the neighborhood, healthier school snacks, healthier marketing, and sugary drinks.
Salud America! is creating, populating, and recruiting members for a multi-purpose online platform, Growing Healthy Change, to serve as a clearinghouse for news, research and evidence-based informational products, ongoing prevention policies, dynamic role model stories and videos, and other resources to prevent Latino childhood obesity. We hypothesize that this online platform, which will be launched following beta-testing in Fall 2013, will increase self and collective efficacy among members of the Salud America! network to drive community efforts that will lead to reductions in Latino childhood obesity.
Salud America! surveyed its network in January 2013 to gauge the use of Salud America! products—including monthly E-alerts, quarterly E-newsletters, a website, and the proposed Growing Healthy Change online platform—and determined network members’ baseline perceived self and collective efficacy for childhood obesity change. A total of 148 individuals responded, about 10% of the network. Most respondents were between ages 50-59 (30%) and female (80%). More than half of respondents were Latino (65%).
Survey results found that the majority of respondents read our quarterly and monthly newsletters and a good proportion of our younger network members were connected and using our social media fed content. In regards to efficacy for advocacy, higher levels of Salud America! engagement was associated with collective efficacy—greater confidence in organized group advocacy as a way of advancing policies to reduce Latino child obesity. This sense of collective efficacy moderately predicts intentions to engage in advocacy behaviors. Salud America! engagement levels were less strongly associated with members’ confidence in their personal ability to be an effective advocate, and this sense of self- efficacy was a very strong predictor of intentions. Based on these findings, the Growing Healthy Change online platform will work toward increasing self- and collective efficacy through peer modeling—framed through the network’s evidence-based Policy Contribution Spectrum—and tools to help individuals interested in promoting change to connect with each other and with opportunities for concerted local actions in their communities.
Based on network feedback, Salud America! is working to expand its web-based network through improved and more frequent communication and through the development of the Growing Healthy Change online platform—a website which will allow users to stay informed about the latest in policies related to Latino childhood obesity. Visitors to the site will be able to browse through policy changes occurring at the national, state, and local level as well as success stories, resources, and multimedia products. By becoming a registered user, visitors will be able to submit their own success stories, stories of change happening in their community, and will be able to connect with others who are also a part of the Salud America! network. After the launch of the “Growing Healthy Change Platform,” quarterly network surveys will be sent out to evaluate the use of our Salud America! products, platform and impact on self and collective efficacy.
Implications for Practice and Policy
With research and multimedia products highlighting six areas of potential change—including active play and active spaces—Salud America! will continue to lead health communication efforts to reverse childhood obesity among Latinos.
The Growing Healthy Change online platform will serve as an innovative learning and communications tool to drive change and reverse Latino childhood obesity.
The platform will also track changes occurring at all levels and will help determine which communities lack policies to enforce healthier lifestyles and active living initiatives, and educate on how to make changes in those areas.
Ogden Cl, Carroll MD, Kit BK., Flegel KM. Prevalence of obesity and trends in body mass index among us children and adolescents, 1999-2010. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. 2012;307(5): 483-90.
Humes KR, Jones A, Ramirez RR. Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin: 2010. 2011.
Fry R, Passel JS. Latino Children: A Majority Are U.S.-Born Offspring of Immigrants. Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center 2009.
Ramirez AG, Chalela P, Gallion KJ, Green LW, Ottoson JM. Salud America! Developing a National Latino Childhood Obesity Research Agenda. Health Educ Behav. 2011;38: 251-260.
Ramirez AG, Gallion KJ, Despres CE, Adeigbe RT. Salud America!: A National Research Network to Build the Field and Evidence to Prevent Latino Childhood Obesity. American journal of preventive medicine. 2013;44(3): S178-185.
Ottoson JM, Green LW, Beery WL, Senter SK, Cahill CL, Pearson DC, et al. Policy-Contribution Assessment and Field-Building Analysis of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Active Living Research Program. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2009;36(2, Supplement):S34-S43.
Ottoson JM, Ramirez AG, Green LW, Gallion KJ. Exploring Potential Research Contributions to Policy: The Salud America! Experience. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2013;44(3, Supplement): S282-S289.
Support / Funding Source
This research project is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (ID 70208).