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$2.9 million study uses texts, counseling to control obesity

Posted on Thursday, May 15, 2014 · Volume: XLVII · Issue: 10


Latino youngsters and their families will learn about healthy eating and increased physical activity through a new study funded by a $2.9 million grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
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Latino youngsters and their families will learn about healthy eating and increased physical activity through a new study funded by a $2.9 million grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.clear graphic

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Contact: Catherine Duncan,
210- 567-2570

SAN ANTONIO (May 7, 2014) – A new obesity management program will use family counseling, text messages and newsletters to help control weight and spark healthier eating and physical activity habits in obese/overweight Latino children.

The $2.9 million grant to UT Health Science Center San Antonio researchers is funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Study protocol
Researchers will develop and test the six-month program with 230 child-parent pairs in three pediatric clinics of the University Health System.

Half the child-parent pairs will get in-clinic counseling on how to make healthy changes.

The other half will get the same in-clinic counseling – plus phone counseling and culturally tailored text messages and newsletters to reinforce changes suggested through counseling.

“We believe kids in the more intensive group will significantly improve their body composition, increase their physical activity levels, consume more fruits and vegetables and fewer sugary drinks, and decrease their sedentary habits, like watching TV,” said Deborah Parra-Medina, Ph.D., M.P.H., the study’s principal investigator and a professor at the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio.

Obesity and overweight more prevalent among Hispanics
About 39 percent of Latino kids ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese, compared to 32 percent of all U.S. youngsters.

Research indicates that Latino youngsters tend to have more limited access to physical activity options and healthy food, contributing to obesity and related health issues, such as diabetes.

Deborah Parra-Medina, Ph.D., M.P.H., is leading the study that will evaluate whether family counseling, text messages and newsletters will help control weight and spark healthier eating and physical activity among obese and overweight Latino youth.
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Deborah Parra-Medina, Ph.D., M.P.H., is leading the study that will evaluate whether family counseling, text messages and newsletters will help control weight and spark healthier eating and physical activity among obese and overweight Latino youth. clear graphic

 

Dr. Parra-Medina’s new obesity management program will tackle many of these factors.

Counseling will focus on:
  • Consuming more fruits and vegetables;

  • Drinking fewer sugar-sweetened beverages;

  • Limiting screen time; and

  • Being active at least one hour a day.
Strategies to improve eating habits include:
  • Eating breakfast daily;

  • Eating more meals at home;

  • Eating meals as a family most days; and

  • Allowing children to self-regulate their meals.
Dr. Parra-Medina and her colleagues will develop content for culturally tailored newsletters and text messages to reinforce those concepts. David Akopian, Ph.D., of The University of Texas at San Antonio, will implement the text messaging system.

Measuring success
The team will measure the impact of the program on body composition, insulin, glucose and cholesterol levels. They will also compare health behavior changes, such as fruit and vegetable consumption.

“We think this will become an effective way to reduce and prevent obesity in Hispanic families,” Dr. Parra-Medina said.

Collaborators on the study
Others from IHPR faculty and staff involved in the study are Cynthia Mojica, Ph.D., assistant professor, and Laura Esparza, M.S., project coordinator. Others from the UT Health Science Center involved in the study are: Carisse Orsi, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics, and Yuanyuan Liang, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics.

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The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 3 percent of all institutions worldwide receiving National Institutes of Health funding. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced more than 29,000 graduates. The $765.2 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit www.uthscsa.edu.

 
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