According to Healthy Kids New Mexico (2012), Hispanic school-age children in New Mexico are more than twice as likely as White non-Hispanic students to be obese (17.7% versus 8.7%). Hispanic families living in Colonias are at a greater risk than their White counterparts for health disparities as a result of substandard housing, safety issues, high poverty levels, and lack of basic infrastructure. Poverty puts families at high risk for food insecurity. Children from food-insecure households are at significantly more risk for of being overweight than children in food-secure households (Casey, et al., 2006). These issues along with lack of access to needed resources can make it extremely difficult to make healthy choices about eating and physical activity. The long-term objective of this collaborative project is to increase the capacity of Mexican American families living in Colonias within the southern New Mexico border region to identify strategies to promote healthy eating and physical activity, thus reducing health disparities related to overweight and obesity.
For this Tier I project, a community-based participatory research approach will be used to develop a community alliance work group. Members will be solicited from the education system, healthcare system, business sector, policy-making sector, and, most important, families living in the target population. The primary aim of this work group will be to create a work group structure, develop goals and objectives, and do some initial brainstorming related to the challenges and strengths within the Colonias community structure that affect residents' ability to participate in healthy eating and regular physical activity.