The Hispanic population is one of the most obese ethnic groups in the U.S, and obesity levels within this community is rising. Dr. Guadalupe Ayala of San Diego State University conducted a study, “Effects of a Promotor-Based Intervention to Promote Physical Activity: Familias Sanas y Activas” (recently published in the December issue of the American Journal of Public Health), observing the benefits of a “train the trainer” approach in improving the fitness and well being of the large Hispanic community in South San Diego County, California – a community in which obesity is prevalent.
The “train the trainer” approach identifies community members who are interested in promoting physical activity (PA), provides them with training through partner agencies, and these trainees consequently lead PA sessions with interested community participants (which were all women for practical purposes of the study). The study had positive results which report that
intervention participation improved systolic blood pressure, waist circumference, fitness , and hamstring flexibility. We also noted improvements in use of community resources , depressed mood and anhedonia, perceived barriers to be physically active, and community support for PA.
The participants not only reported better physical function, but also less depression. Indeed, one of the biggest benefits of exercise is stress reduction, which can reduce “stress” eating (arguably typical in women who do a lot of emotional eating!).
This is a good study that corroborates the effectiveness of intervention programs like weight watchers in comparison to physicians. It also does a good job of identifying and highlighting the need for/benefits of PA intervention programs in minority populations that have increasing obesity levels.