Family-Based Obesity Prevention in Latino Families


To evaluate the feasibility/acceptability of an overweight prevention intervention for Latino families, "Niños felices, Niños Sanos" (Happy Healthy Kids).


Obesity is an epidemic in the United States and is associated with increased risk for numerous medical problems. Many obesity-related risk factors and diseases are strikingly apparent in minority populations. Comparable rates of overweight exist for two to five year old non-Hispanic white and African American children. However, the prevalence of overweight is considerably higher among preschool Mexican American children. Thus, the preschool years are a crucial time to alter the trajectory toward overweight among high-risk children if we are to effectively address his public health crisis. This study builds upon findings of a previously NIH-funded study, "Hip Hop to Health Jr." (HL58871), whose primary aim was to compare changes in body mass index (BMI) [kg/m2) in two groups of 3- to 5-year-old minority children randomized to a weight control intervention or a general health intervention (as a control group). Results for the children at the Year 1 and Year 2 follow-ups showed that children in the weight control intervention had significantly smaller increases in BMI compared to the children in the control group. The success was among the schools that served predominantly Black children. Results at Year 1 and Year 2 follow-up for the Latino children did not show these same positive results. Potential limitations for the Latino schools were that the intervention was solely school-based with minimal parental intervention and not sufficient in its attention to literacy level and cultural competence. We now propose an intervention to test the feasibility/acceptability of an overweight prevention intervention for Latino families, "Niños Felices, Niños Sanos" (Happy Healthy Kids) that takes advantage of the school setting which provides continuous contact with children, easier access to parents and trust in the educational setting. Our study has three aims:

  1. To test the acceptability of a 14-week family-based intervention with Latino children (ages 3-5) and their parents.
  2. To estimate the effectiveness of this intervention designed to show smaller changes, on average, in BMI appropriate for growth in Latino children ages 3-5 at post-intervention and Year 1 follow-up.
  3. To estimate the effectiveness of this intervention designed to produce changes in television viewing, physical activity, fat, fiber, and fruit and vegetable intake in 3- to 5-year-old Latino children and their parents at post-intervention and Year 1 follow-up.


Research Partner(s)

Chicago Public Schools

Principal investigator
Funding Agency

National Cancer Institute
(Grant No. 1 R21 CA121423)


Carol Brauschweig, PhD
Melinda Stolley, PhD

Start date
End date
Total award

Related publications

See publications supported by this grant on this PubMed list

Kong A, Vijayasiri G, Fitzgibbon ML, Schiffer LA, Campbell RT. Confirmatory factor analysis and measurement invariance of the Child Feeding Questionnaire in low-income Hispanic and African-American mothers with preschool-age children. Appetite. 2015 Jul;90:16-22. [See abstract.]

Fitzgibbon ML, Stolley MR, Schiffer L, Kong A, Braunschweig CL, Gomez-Perez SL, Odoms-Young A, Van Horn L, Christoffel KK, Dyer AR. Family-based hip-hop to health: outcome results. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2013 Feb;21(2):274-83. [See abstract.]