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Community interventions and in-home visits may slow excess weight gain in American Indian children
Date:6/2/2010

Community intervention can help American Indian families change behavior related to early childhood weight gain and obesity, according to a new Kaiser Permanente and Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB) study.

The study, published online in the Journal of Community Health, also finds that adding in-home visits to the community intervention has an even more profound effect on behavior change, and can reduce a child's body mass index.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, this is the first study to target obesity prevention among American Indian children starting at birth.

"Nearly half of American Indian children are overweight and their rapid weight gain starts at birth. By starting interventions early we can have a long-term impact on their behaviors and may be able to slow down excess weight gain," said study lead author Njeri Karanja, an investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore.

"Tribal community health workers designed the interventions to fit the specific needs of their community and families," said Tam Lutz, study co-author and junior investigator with the Portland Area Indian Health Board. For example, one tribe created and maintained a breast-feeding room at its tribal health clinic; another passed a resolution to stop buying sugar-sweetened beverages for tribally sponsored events. "Community health workers also customized home visits to the needs of the family," Lutz added. "For example, mothers who needed more breastfeeding support received additional home visits to address that need."

The study included 205 families from three American Indian tribes in Oregon and Washington. One tribe received only community interventions and two tribes received the community intervention along with in-home visits and telephone calls from community health workers. The visits started in the third trimester of pregnancy and lasted until the babies w
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Contact: Emily Schwartz
eschwartz@golinharris.com
415-274-7926
GolinHarris International
Source:Eurekalert

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