The effects of a 12 week nutrition and physical activity intervention program on Mexican Americans residing in the lower Rio Grande Valley, TX

Tania Rivera, Florida International University


The obesity epidemic is a global health concern. In the United States alone, 68.5% of adults are categorized as overweight or obese; of these, 35.1% are considered obese. Obesity is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality from diabetes and cardiovascular disease, two diseases adversely affecting minority groups such as Mexican Americans. Yet, a modest 5% decrease in weight, through changes in diet and physical activity, can help control type 2 diabetes. The current study extracted the dietary data and selected outcome variables from Beyond Sabor, a 12 week intervention conducted in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas, a predominantly Mexican American disadvantaged community. Social Cognitive Theory, guided the design of this culturally tailored intervention. Community resources and natural helpers emerged through the utilization of community based participatory research methods. Study participants (n= 1,273) were recruited from local food bank sites and randomized into treatment and control groups. The treatment group received 12 weekly sessions focusing on healthier eating habits, cooking methods, and physical activity. The control group received 6 nutrition education sessions on similar topics. The study measured changes in several food groups including consumption of soda, fruit juice, and fruit and vegetables. A repeated measures Analysis of Variance was employed to determine changes in treatment and control groups from baseline, post intervention and 40 week follow up. The results showed a significant decrease in soda (F= 8.48, p< .001) and fruit juice (F= 3.12, p= .045) consumption for both groups, with a particular decrease in soda for the treatment group. In addition, there was a significant increase in fruit (F=15.32, p< .001) and vegetable (F=3.16, p= .04) consumption in both groups. The outcome variables selected were weight, body mass index (BMI), and fasting plasma glucose (FPG). There were significant changes for all three variables over time. The intervention resulted in changes in dietary behaviors that ultimately led to changes in weight, BMI, and FPG. It is evident from the current study, that the use of community based helpers facilitated changes in food habits. This study serves as a prognosticator for future interventions.

Subject Area

Public health|Hispanic American studies

Recommended Citation

Rivera, Tania, "The effects of a 12 week nutrition and physical activity intervention program on Mexican Americans residing in the lower Rio Grande Valley, TX" (2016). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI10289697.