Principal Investigator: Guadalupe X. Ayala
Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and conducted in partnership with a national network of similar studies, this project recognizes that childhood obesity is a consequence of a number of behaviors that occur in homes, in schools, day care centers, and in the community at large. These behaviors include but are not limited to poor eating habits, too little physical activity and too much sedentary activity, and poor sleeping habits. As such, researchers and community partners will implement a multi-level intervention designed to reduce the rates of childhood obesity by changing policies, systems, and environments that affect the health of Imperial County’s children. This research will be carried out in the communities of Brawley, Calexico and El Centro.
ICCOP activities will occur in three phases. During Phase 1 we will consult with Imperial County advisory board members and other community members to determine how best to approach the problem of childhood obesity by building upon Imperial County’s assets and identifying its areas of need. The information gained will guide the design and refinement of the project’s intervention (Phase 2) and evaluation (Phase 2 & 3) activities. In Phase 2, the project will assess the impact of the multi-level intervention on the health of 1,440 children between 2 and 10 years old. Intervention activities will target behaviors to promote healthy eating, physical activity, and fewer sedentary behaviors in four different areas – federally qualified community health centers, childcare centers, elementary schools, and the community at large (specifically within restaurants and through the parks & recreation departments). The project will also work directly with families in their home environment via a promotor program implemented through Clínicas de Salud del Pueblo. During Phase 3, the project will evaluate Phase 2 activities to determine their overall impact and effectiveness, as well as measure the cost-effectiveness of the selected approaches. Preparations will also be made during this phase to ensure sustainability of the project within the community. Finally, project strategies found to be effective will be summarized and disseminated to other networks and similar rural and low-income communities, as well as published in national and international journals.