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Nutrition education—when it’s accessible—can help low-income Latino and all families eat healthier.
Four innovative projects used text messages, online programs, and other technologies to boost the reach and impact of nutrition education among participants in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) federal food assistance program.
In each project, technology made nutrition education more accessible and useful.
“Technology appears to have an impact on keeping our families in the program,” said Dr. Shannon Whaley of UCLA, which led one of the studies. “This use of technology matters, and it is where WIC probably needs to go.”
Why Is Nutrition Education a Big Deal?
Latinos tend to lack access to healthy food, according to a Salud America! Research Review.
One big way Latinos can access healthy food and nutrition education is though WIC (they make up 32% of WIC participants).
That’s why the Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine funded four researchers to lead technology projects to improve nutrition education for WIC participants.
The Four Projects
Here are the four projects:
- Dr. Rafael Pérez-Escamilla of Yale University sought to determine how evidence-based text messages from a breastfeeding peer counselor can improve a mother’s confidence to breastfeed.
- Dr. Lorrene Ritchie of University of California Nutrition Policy Institute evaluated the impact of online versus traditional in-person clinic-based modes of delivering nutrition education in WIC on dietary behavior.
- Dr. M Jane Heinig from UC-Davis aimed to improve parents’ abilities to better recognize normal infant sleep and crying patterns through feasible low-cost video training.
- Dr. Jennifer Di Noa from William Paterson University (New Jersey) developed and tested an online WIC nutrition education program to promote the purchase of fruits and vegetables at farmer’s markets.
Di Noa’s project proved the effectiveness of WIC “Fresh Start” online lessons for WIC participants.
Online lessons were associated with redemption of fruit-and-veggie vouchers at farmer’s markets, improvement in knowledge about locally grown seasonal items and food preparation, and fruit-and-veggie purchases and intent to purchase.
Pérez-Escamilla’s project showed that text messages effectively connect mothers and breastfeeding peer counselors.
“[The project also] had a small effect on exclusive breastfeeding in the expected direction,” according to a report.
For full details of the report and each study, please click on the following links:
Can you use technology to help make nutrition education more accessible for Latinos?