OBJECTIVE:

To test the effect of a culturally tailored, family-centered, short-term behavioral intervention on BMI in Latino-American preschool-aged children.

METHODS:

In a randomized controlled trial, 54 parent–child dyads were allocated to the intervention and 52 dyads were allocated to an alternative school-readiness program as the control condition. Parent–child dyads were eligible if the parent self-defined Latino, was at least 18 years old, had a 2- to 6-year-old child not currently enrolled in another healthy lifestyle program, had a valid telephone number, and planned on remaining in the city for the next 6 months. The Salud Con La Familia (Health with the Family) program consisted of 12 weekly 90-minute skills-building sessions designed to improve family nutritional habits and increase physical activity. Both programs were conducted in a community recreation center serving an urban neighborhood of mostly Spanish-speaking residents.

RESULTS:

Forty-two percent of participating preschool-aged children were overweight or obese. Controlling for child age, gender, and baseline BMI, the effect of the treatment condition on postintervention absolute BMI was B = –0.59 (P < .001). The intervention effect seemed to be strongest for obese children.

CONCLUSIONS:

A skills-building, culturally tailored intervention involving parent–child dyads changed short-term early growth patterns in these Latino-American preschool-aged children. Examining long-term effects would be a prudent next step.

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