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!Podemos!™: A Journal Article Publicizes We Can!® Success with San Diego's Latinas

Posted January 12, 2011

The University of San Diego—a We Can! general community site since March 2008—made headlines for We Can! with the publication of its study "Ways to Enhance Children's Activity and Nutrition—A Pilot Project With Latina Mothers" in the Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing (JSPN, October 2010).

Kathy JamesAs lead study author and nursing professor Kathy James, DNSc, APRN, reports, however, the good news goes beyond the study's publication. Follow-up with study participants has revealed that they're still benefiting from learning how to get the whole family to eat right, move more, and spend less time in front of the screen.

"I think seven of eight lost weight, with one woman losing about 10 pounds. Their reported changes include cooking with less fat, eating more fruits and vegetables, eliminating sodas, and increased activity by walking. Their children are walking with them as well, some four to five times a week!" said James. "We are so proud of them!"

The purposes of the mixed-method pilot study were two-fold:

  • To discover whether Latina mothers would be receptive to and participate in the We Can! program
  • To examine whether there would be changes in their opinions, perceptions, and health-behavior intentions (such as increasing physical activity; buying less high-fat, high-calorie food; limiting sweetened beverages; and TV viewing)

James says that the group of 18 mothers (with 17 children) who were recruited at an urban elementary school in a diverse neighborhood met weekly at that school for six weeks in 2010. The school nurse also attended the meetings, so that she could continue running We Can! after the study concluded. James and her team even recruited one of the young mothers to become the nurse's co-leader on future programs.

James says that it became clear that participants weren't sure which foods were best to serve, and hadn't thought about serving as a role model for healthy behaviors. However, choosing weekly goals for both nutrition and physical activity, and then talking about it in small groups the following week, helped because participants were eager to learn from one another.

"They would drop their preschoolers off next door and then attend our meeting held in a classroom," said James. "We also sent the mothers to the local clinic and paid for laboratory screening for diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors. As a result, we found several moms who are pre-diabetic, and a few children with elevated cholesterol, triglycerides, and fasting insulin levels."

James reports that the next step is to conduct another, longer study to see whether participants continue to maintain changes, and if this healthy behavior and its benefits are passed down to their children.

You can read about the study in the October 2010 JSPN, volume 15, #4, and view the PubMed citation at

Last Updated: May 8, 2012

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