218272 Culturally Appropriate Nutrition and Physical Activity Programs: Using Lay Health Workers as Agents of Change in Latino Communities

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 : 10:45 AM - 11:00 AM

Alejandra J. Gepp, MA , Institute for Hispanic Health, National Council of la Raza, Washington, DC
Maria Rosa, PhD, DrPH , Institute for Hispanic Health, National Council of La Raza, Washington, DC
Evelyn Kelly, MPH , Health, Casa de Maryland, Inc., Silver Spring, MD
Juanita Lara , Make the Road New York, Woodside, NY
Diane de Jesus , Health Services, Organizacion Civica y Cultural Hispana Americana, Inc., Youngstown, OH
Introduction: Healthy eating and physical activity have received increased attention as a vital disease prevention strategy. However, research is needed to develop education initiatives that reach underserved populations and present information in an understandable and practical form.

The present study is a partnership between the National Council of La Raza's (NCLR) Institute for Hispanic Health (IHH) and the ConAgra Foods Foundation. IHH tested and evaluated a culturally tailored intervention administered by lay health workers and designed to equip Latinos with resources needed to improve nutrition and undertake physical activity.

Methods: Lay health workers were trained in three cities to conduct environmental scans, as part of a larger initiative focused on increasing Latinos' awareness of the risk factors for heart disease. The environmental scans resulted in the development of community-specific resource lists of healthy food choices and sites at which to engage in physical activity. These resource lists were then disseminated to community members through educational sessions. As part of the same initiative, the health workers also offered culturally tailored cooking demonstrations to community members.

Results: Data collected from the demonstrations indicate that participants embraced the idea of cooking their typical recipes in a healthier way. The vast majority of participants (95%) stated an intention to change their cooking habits by using low-fat ingredients available in their neighborhoods.

Discussion: Study results suggest that people's desire to be healthy, coupled with knowledge of how to be healthy with one's community resources, will go a long way in improving a community's health.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Public health or related education
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the need for culturally and linguistically appropriate health education programs for Latinos to reduce risk factors associated with chronic diseases. Describe the use and application of the lay health workers model in diverse settings. Discuss the importance of providing community-specific nutrition and physical activity resources to low-income, Spanish-speaking Latinos.

Keywords: Health Care Workers, Community-Based Health Promotion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I have worked in the implementation of health promotion programs at the community level for over ten years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.