A new guidebook developed by researchers from Kansas State University is aimed at improving Hispanic health in the U.S. by creating a culturally-relevant resource for nutrition and physical activity.
The data, compiled by Debra Bolton, instructor and K-State Research and Extension specialist in family and consumer sciences and her team, is published in the most recent issue of the journal Ethnicity and Disease.
“Because of where I live and because of my research, the professors called and said they wanted to do research,” Bolton, who is based in Garden City and performs research centered on Hispanic populations, said in a statement. “It was a good place for them to get into communities and understand health and habits.”
The research took place in southwest Kansas where the Hispanic population is considered above state average. Hispanics make up close to half of the population in all three counties of Finney, Ford and Seward. According to Bolton, that region of southwestern Kansas was ideal for the study.
Hispanic health guidebook
The guidebook combines “community-specific cultural and historical information with physical activity and nutrition health education materials,” while focusing on the following aspects of Hispanic health: diabetes, obesity, heart disease, physical activity, nutrition, and access to health care.
While compiling the information, researchers found many Hispanic residents were new immigrants who were unaware of resources for health care in their communities, and the guidebook—which is available in both English and Spanish—is a way to address that issue.
The guidebook is initially available and focused on Kansas Hispanic residents but it could constitute a first step toward a nationwide effort to support Hispanic health.
In addition to outlining community resources, the book offers pictures of local parks and trails as well as images of people participating in healthy activities. Overall, researchers found the guide was well-accepted when handed out to the community.
“I think it’s a good start to understanding access to physical activity and health,” Bolton explained, indicating many immigrants suffer from health issues related to acculturation. “In my own research, I understand these residents don’t come to the U.S. as unhealthy people. Because it’s a new, different way of eating than their bodies are used to, they are more prone to diabetes and other diseases. I hope that this research helps this population understand that how they ate and exercised in their former country was the healthy thing to do.”