Posts tagged girl scouts
Dr. Deborah Parra-Medina, professor and researcher at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, was elected to The Obesity Society’s Pediatric Obesity Section, which supports scientific efforts to understand child obesity and inform its treatment and prevention.
The Obesity Society aims to advance the science-based understanding of the causes, consequences, prevention and treatment of obesity to improve the lives of those affected by creating the leading professional society in the field.
The Society’s Pediatric Obesity Section aims to:
- promote networking and collaboration among pediatric obesity researchers and practitioners;
- promote pediatric obesity clinical practice; and
- increase the national visibility of the pediatric obesity section as a leading resource in research, practice, and advocacy.
“I am excited to contribute to this group and bring attention to the rising obesity epidemic among Latino children,” Dr. Parra-Medina said. “Latino children are part of the largest, fastest-growing racial/ethnic minority groups, but they struggle with disproportionately high obesity rates and related health problems that could endanger the nation’s future health.”
Parra-Medina will serve a two-year term from 2012-14. She will attend The Obesity Society’s annual scientific meetings and engage in group communications.
Parra-Medina has vast experience in health promotion, public health epidemiology, health disparities in cardiovascular and chronic disease, and community-based interventions among under-served and minority populations. At the IHPR, she leads several research projects, including a project that teamed researchers, community leaders and parent to design and implement a text-messaging-infused intervention to boost activity and reduce sedentary behaviors among Latina Girl Scouts ages 11-14 in San Antonio.
She has authored many peer-reviewed articles, is frequently invited to speak at scientific meetings, and is a member of various health groups and coalitions.
Find out more about The Obesity Society here.
Laura Esparza used to be an “exercise avoider.”
She steered clear of physical activities that resembled the P.E. classes of her youth, and had little confidence to work out or try playing any sports.
That changed when Esparza, a parent of three children and community volunteer in San Antonio, Texas, grew increasingly concerned with rising local obesity levels and learned that daily physical activity is an essential element of everyone’s physical and mental health.
Now she exercises regularly and is an avid “exercise promoter” at the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, where she researches ways to increase Latino families’ physical activity.
“Spurred by my own experience, I became interested in promoting exercise and physical activity for those not already active,” said Esparza, who joined the IHPR in 2009 from UT San Antonio, where she earned her master’s degree in health and kinesiology. “I want to help solve the obesity health crisis.”
Esparza is a key player in the IHPR’s Physical Activity Partnership for Girls, a multi-component health behavior-change intervention that uses text messaging and social media to promote physical activity among adolescent Latina Girl Scouts.
She also coordinates Y Living, a healthy lifestyle program for cancer prevention and risk reduction with community partner, the YMCA of Greater San Antonio.
“I enjoy working with community partners because they are so committed to improving the lives of their constituents in an increasingly challenging resource environment,” she said. “Community-academic collaboration is not easy work—it takes a lot of time and energy to build on the knowledge and strengths of both sides in order to develop programs that have a chance of success. In the end, everyone involved wants to improve the health and well-being of the community, and I am so pleased to be a part of that.”
Esparza takes her promoter role directly into the community, too.
She is vice-chair of the Active Living Council of San Antonio, a group focused on facilitating change in policy, infrastructure, and attitudes to promote active living throughout the community, and serves on the community board of the Methodist Healthcare System, the city’s largest hospital system.
“Improving health takes a multi-level effort, from lending a hand in the community to figuring out how to get 12-year-old girls excited about trying a new exercise,” Esparza said. “The challenge is to make being physically active the easy choice.”
From selling cookies and earning merit badges to helping researchers fight obesity, Girl Scouts are testing out a new fitness program called “Be Fit With Friends” that lets them text and even spend time on Facebook to get them to be more physically active.
How does it work?
Read more in an Ivanhoe news report about the “Be Fit With Friends” project, which is led by Dr. Deborah Parra-Medina of the Institute for Health Promotion Research at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, the team behind SaludToday.
For girls growing up on the San Antonio’s West Side, exercise may not be a walk in the park. They encounter stray dogs and face traffic without sidewalks. Public places like basketball courts are often in use by boys, leaving girls reluctant to seek a turn. And parents, fearing crime or unwanted attention, may not let girls roam unsupervised.
That’s why researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio are testing a new program to increase girls’ opportunities to become more physically active.
The program, “Be Fit with Friends,” gives girls many options – from basic fitness equipment like jump ropes to volunteer opportunities to online social media, fitness video games on the Wii and Kinect and text messaging – to help overcome barriers to physical activity. Thirty Girl Scouts from West Side troops began trying out the program in February, and researchers hope to include more this fall.
“We want to build a sustainable program that takes advantage of tools and resources that already exist to help girls add physical activity to their lives,” said Dr. Deborah Parra-Medina of the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at the UT Health Science Center. “We think this can open up girls’ and parents’ minds to engaging in physical activity on an ongoing basis.”
“Be Fit with Friends,” which teams the IHPR and Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas, reaches out to girls in several ways:
- During troop meetings, Girls Scouts will learn physical activity basics.
- Also at meetings, Girl Scouts will try several “mobile PA (physical activity) units.” One holds playground toys like jump ropes. Another has yoga equipment. Others have videogames for Nintendo Wii or Kinect for Xbox.
- To connect girls to community resources, on weekends girls will walk the Apache Park Greenway, golf at the First Tee of San Antonio and volunteer at the San Antonio Food Bank’s Spurs Community Garden.
- Each girl will receive two pedometers – step-counting devices – for herself and a parent.
- On their cell phones, girls will receive motivational text messages, vote on favorite activities and more. There’s also a Facebook group where girls can post photos, see an events calendar, watch instructional videos, etc.
Girl Scouts, parents and community members gathered in San Antonio recently to review the girls’ photos of barriers to physical activity, and discuss ways to overcome barriers and encourage activity.
Below are some of the girls’ with their photos.
The girls’ photo presentations and the information gathered at the recent community retreat will be used by researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio as part of a broader effort to get young girls, particularly young Hispanic girls, moving.
The project is led by two researchers from the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the Health Science Center, Deborah M. Parra-Medina and Laura Esparza. Parra-Medina, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, studies health disparities in underserved communities and works to create behavioral interventions.
Read more about the effort here.
Check out this latest news and research in the epidemic of childhood obesity among Latinos:
Texas: Girl Scouts involved in research project to promote physical activity
To identify ways to get Latinas ages 11-14 moving more, Girl Scouts in South Texas are using Photovoice, in which community members use images to share their perspectives on issues to spark change. The project is part of a larger study led by The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, the team behind SaludToday.
Arizona: Kids in lower-income families battling obesity
Southern Arizona children are suffering from adult afflictions, and doctors blame it on a troubling surge in childhood obesity. Lifestyle, diet, genetics, and population growth among Hispanics, an at-risk group, all are contributing to the rise. But low socioeconomic status seems to be the major factor.
Tennessee: Health food void in low-income areas may feed obesity
In Nashville’s poorest communities, body mass indexes, a critical weight to height ratio and measure of health, are on average higher than in other neighborhoods. And there are hints that the reason for that difference may not lie only between individual plates and mouths, but in what food can be found closest to Nashville’s poorest homes.
How the family environment impacts obesity in Latino children
Parents of overweight, elementary-school-aged Latino children provide less support to engage in activity and set fewer limits on their child’s activities, according to a study in the Journal of School Health. Study authors suggest that the environments in which Latino kids are reared may play a vital role in determining their risk for obesity.
A group of Girl Scouts in San Antonio, Texas, spent part of their President’s Day working on a photography assignment that could be beneficial in pinpointing causes of sedentary lifestyles.
The Avenida Guadalupe Girl Scout Center on San Antonio’s West Side went out to take pictures in order to identify the things in their neighborhood that either help them get involved in physical activities or discourages them from being physically active, according to a report in the San Antonio Business Journal.
The girls’ perspective will be used by researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio as part of a broader effort to get young girls, particularly young Hispanic girls, moving.
The project is led by two researchers from the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the Health Science Center, Deborah M. Parra-Medina and Laura Esparza. Parra-Medina, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, studies health disparities in underserved communities and works to create behavioral interventions. Esparza, the project coordinator, is working to reduce sedentary behavior and increase physical activity among women, youth and underserved populations.