Nutrition Effects of a Family-Centered Health Promotion Program for Mexican-Heritage Children in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas




Laviolette, Chelsey
Johnson, Cassandra M.
Butler, J. Lauren
Biediger-Friedman, Lesli
Sharkey, Joseph R.

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Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute


Systemic and social factors, like poverty and food insecurity, negatively influence fruit and vegetable (FV) intake and body mass index (BMI) among Latino/a children. Behavioral programs are needed to support children’s nutrition. This study examined program effects on FV intake and BMI outcomes for Mexican-heritage children (9–11 years). The program used a modified stepped-wedge design in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas (2019 and 2020). Promotoras led experiential nutrition education sessions and collected height, weight, and instant skin carotenoid scores (biomarker for FV intake) at pre-test (baseline), post-test (6 weeks), and maintenance (3–4 months after post-test). Mean changes and group differences in skin carotenoid scores, BMI z-scores and percentiles were obtained from analyses of variance. Linear mixed-effects models were used to determine overall program effects. Mexican-heritage children were enrolled (n = 57 and 52.6% female). An overall decrease in skin carotenoid scores was observed at post-test (−15.1; 95% CI: −24.95, −5.33). While scores varied widely (range: 17–498), an increase of 14.8 ± 23.8 points occurred in one intervention group. Compared to the control period, greater reductions in BMI outcomes occurred during the program. These findings provide evidence for the use of strengths-based approaches in behavioral nutrition programs.




Laviolette, C., Johnson, C. M., Butler, J. L., Biediger-Friedman, L., & Sharkey, J. R. (2023). Nutrition effects of a family-centered health promotion program for Mexican-heritage children in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Nutrients, 15(7), 1600.


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