NEW YORK, Feb. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Findings released today by The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Inc. indicate that community-based approaches to reducing the rate of obesity among Latino families can be effective. Showing positive results, the organization's Healthy Living Program, funded by Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation and Unilever United States Foundation, offered a free culturally-based nutrition and fitness program to families in the Central Bronx, where 60 percent of adults are overweight or obese (NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene). In addition, Bronx residents are approximately 85 percent more likely to be obese than Manhattan residents (New York Times, March 14, 2010).
Designed to combat obesity, a major problem for Latinos, and show families that eating healthy foods and engaging in physical activity can be enjoyable and can fit in their lifestyles, the Healthy Living Summer Program works with whole families, creating opportunities for families to bond and strengthen relationships, while also creating a shared understanding of nutrition and fitness in the family that will reinforce healthy choices. In addition, this program also provides an opportunity for participants to meet and connect with other community members, giving them support that lasts beyond the program period.
Participants from the community were enrolled in the program throughout the summer and engaged in a variety of activities, including nutrition instruction, fitness instruction, walks in a local park and a periodic weight check. Some participants indicated that exercise and nutrition were not a part of their lives when they began the program.
- Weight loss: Of the 30 participants who were weighed at the beginning and end of the program, 80 percent lost weight.
- An increase in the number of steps participants took each day/week: Participant median for daily steps increased from 7,642 to 10,466
- An increase in the number of minutes that participants spent exercising outside of the program: At the beginning of the program participants reported exercising and average of 305.38 minutes a week outside of program time. At the end of the program that number had increased to 731.59 minutes.
"Programs like our Healthy Living Program provide our Latino community with the information they need to work together as a family to build a healthy lifestyle, while not only respecting their cultures and traditions, but building upon them," said Elba Montalvo, Executive Director of The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Inc.
"Empire is proud to be able to support a program that successfully promotes healthy lifestyles in a community that is responsive to such opportunities," added Mark Wagar, President and CEO, Empire BlueCross BlueShield. "Participants have spread the word about what they have learned and how much they enjoyed themselves. As a result, generation of families, and families and friends, still gather to focus on improving their health. Now that we know these modest behavior changes have such a striking impact, Empire will look to work with CHCF and more community organizations, physicians and health providers to get thousands -- instead of just dozens -- involved."
Key components of the program were pre-tests, post-tests, weight checks and a focus group. During the focus group, conducted in Spanish and English, participants spoke about how important the program was to them in terms of the ability to walk more; getting out of the house; making friends; learning about healthy foods, healthy cooking and correct portions; becoming more mindful of food choices; and, providing a space for physical activity. They also spoke of a long lasting change caused by the program. At the time of the focus group, after the program's end, participants were still meeting at the Recreation Center to walk together.
The Healthy Living Program used the culturally-based curriculum, Salsa, Sabor y Salud, to teach healthy lifestyle habits to Latino families by using cultural traditions and values. Games, music, and discussion are incorporated, as are traditional foods and seasonings and dances, such as Salsa.
ABOUT THE COMMITTEE FOR HISPANIC CHILDREN AND FAMILIES, INC.
Since 1982, The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Inc. (CHCF) has been dedicated to improving the quality of life for Latino children and their families. Believing that the most effective way to serve Latino families is by building upon their existing strengths and fostering self-sufficiency, CHCF provides a number of services to the community in the areas of Youth Development, Early Care & Education, and Family Health Education. Grounded in its direct services, CHCF is active on the local, state and national policy levels around issues of child welfare, early care, education, and the well-being of Latino children. For more information, please call (212) 206-1090 or visit our website at www.chcfinc.org.
ABOUT EMPIRE BLUECROSS BLUESHIELD FOUNDATION
Through charitable grant making, the Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation and the Empire BlueCross Foundation, trade names of the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation L.L.C., independent licensees of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, serving residents and businesses in the 28 eastern and southeastern counties of New York State, promotes Empire's inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Empire serves. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company's annual associate giving campaign and its parent foundation provides a 50 percent match of associates' campaign pledges. To learn more about the Foundation please visit www.wellpointfoundation.org.
About Empire BlueCross BlueShield:
Serving New Yorkers for over 75 years, Empire BlueCross BlueShield is the largest health insurer in New York supporting nearly six million members and more than 38,000 business, union and small employers in New York. Empire BlueCross BlueShield (Empire) is the trade name of Empire HealthChoice Assurance, Inc., and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield HMO is the trade name of Empire HealthChoice HMO, Inc., independent licensees of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, serving residents and businesses in the 28 eastern and southeastern counties of New York State. Additional information about Empire is available at www.empireblue.com. Also, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/healthjoinin, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HealthJoinInEmpire, or visit our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/healthjoinin.
SOURCE Empire BlueCross BlueShield