Hispanic children in the U.S. exhibit the highest rates of obesity compared to other racial/ethnic groups. Effective interventions to reduce the burden of this growing epidemic are needed. Obesity prevention interventions can improve weight outcomes by targeting modifiable lifestyle factors such as dietary patterns and physical activity. Furthermore, there is evidence that culturally-tailored interventions increase fruit and vegetable consumption and decrease sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption among Hispanic children.
To evaluate the effect of Abriendo Caminos 2 (AC2) on Hispanic children's dietary behaviors.
AC2 is a multi-state randomized-control trial that aims to prevent childhood obesity among Hispanic families by providing culturally-tailored nutrition, physical activity, and family wellness education. Families of Mexican or Puerto Rican origin with a child between the ages of 6–18 years were recruited from Illinois, California, Iowa, and Texas. Parents’ reported their child's dietary intake of SSB, fruit juice, fruits, French fries, vegetables, fast food, sweets, and salty snacks using items from the U.S. Department of Education's Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort protocol. Pre/post dietary changes were evaluated using Generalized Estimating Equation models adjusted for site, child sex, age, and mother's education using SAS 9.4 (SAS Institute, Cary, NC, USA).
Children randomized to the intervention arm reduced their consumption of SSB (OR 0.35, 95% CI 0.15, 0.84, P = 0.003), fast food (OR 0.53, 95% CI 0.30, 0.92, P = 0.03), and increased consumption of vegetables (OR 1.95, 95% CI 1.13, 3.36, P = 0.02) after 6 weeks of participating in the program. Children in the control group reportedly decreased SSB consumption frequency (OR 0.40, 95% CI 0.17, 0.97, P = 0.04). There were no changes in the frequency of consumption of the other food items for either group.
Culturally-tailored family-based interventions can help improve dietary behaviors among Hispanic children. Future research should address methods to help Hispanic children transition short-term changes into lifestyle habits.