URBANA, Ill. A successful program that increased the number of fruits and vegetables eaten and decreased sugar-sweetened beverage consumption by 50 percent among Latino children had two secret weapons, according to a University of Illinois researcher.
"First, we got mothers and other relatives involved because family togetherness is a very important value for Latinos. Many programs, delivered at school, target only the child, but we know that kids have very little ability to choose the foods they eat at homethey don't purchase or prepare them," said Angela Wiley, a U of I professor of applied family studies.
The second guiding principle was "mas y menos," meaning "a little more, a little less."
"Interventions often fail because their goals are too lofty. If someone tells me that ice cream is the root of my problem and I can't eat any more of it, I'll be disheartened and say I can't do this. If someone says, would you be willing to eat ice cream two days a week instead of five, or eat light ice cream instead, I would be more willing to try," she said.
Wiley said Hispanics in the Midwest have among the highest obesity rates (30%) in the U.S., and 24 percent of Latino children between the ages of 6 and 13 are overweight or obese.
In the six-week study, the researchers attempted to change dietary behaviors, including increasing the number of servings of fruit and vegetables that children and parents consumed and decreasing their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.
Participant families were recruited in the community. In each weekly session, parents and children were separated for age-tailored lessons, then reunited for taste testing and demonstrations. The rest of the two-hour session was spent in joint family physical activity and a family mealtime class.
"We believe it's important to know your audience, and we tried to address the real needs of these families. For example, we taste-tested tor
|Contact: Phyllis Picklesimer|
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences