It is widespread knowledge that the U.S. has an obesity problem. Perhaps most concerning, though, are the rates of obesity affecting the most vulnerable: children. Latino preschool children have the highest rates of obesity compared with children of other racial and ethnic groups. Recent estimates report that 16.7 percent of Latino preschool children are considered obese compared with 3.5 percent of non-Latino white, 11.3 percent of non-Latino black, and 3.4 percent of non-Latino Asian children. Given that children of immigrants are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. child population, the majority of which are of Latino origin, there is a pressing public health need for effective programs that target obesity prevention in this group.
My research is committed to addressing the obesity disparity experienced by Latino children through culturally tailored home- and community-based prevention programs that target the entire family unit. In 2014, my research team and I received funding from the National Institutes of Health to develop and evaluate one such program. This program, ANDALE Pittsburgh, employed a mixed methods sequential research design to test the feasibility and acceptability of a promotora-delivered, family-based intervention to prevent obesity in Latino preschool children. Promotoras are peer health educators who are trusted individuals from the community and share common characteristics with the target population.