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This is part of our Active Spaces & Latino Kids: A Research Review »
Social marketing to encourage physical activity in children
An example of a successful community-based social marketing campaign is VERB, which promoted physical activity among U.S. children ages 9-13 years and four specific racial/ethnic groups, including Latinos.92
Participants received appealing messages through VERB-branded radio and TV advertisements with the tag line, “It’s what you do!” For Latinos in particular, the tag line was modified to “Ponte las Pilas,” or “Get going” (the literal translation is “put in your batteries”). The advertisements emphasized family values, had an emotional tone, and were delivered in Spanish by authority figures and media personalities who were well respected in the Latino community.
After one year of the program, the Latino group met the goals for VERB awareness, but the awareness was not translating to increased physical activity.
Investigators concluded that the VERB messages needed to reach Latino children through additional outlets to improve physical activity outcomes. After distributing a bilingual schedule planner and increasing marketing to parents, positive associations were observed between exposure to VERB and increased physical activity at the 2-year follow-up.
Incorporation of culturally relevant messages was a successful strategy for personalizing the VERB brand to Latinos and the other racial and ethnic subgroups studied. The VERB Summer Scorecard incorporated community-based prevention marketing to develop a summer physical activity program for youth 9 to 13 years of age.
Emphasizing the fun in physical activity rather than simply the health benefits helped to encourage physical activity during the summer.93
Using technology to try to improve physical activity in Latino kids
The We Walk app and the Choose Healthier app are examples of technology reaching residents in cities with large Latino populations.
The WeWalk app was created by Estrella Hernandez, a 13-year-old Latina living in San Antonio, Texas (63.2% Latino), who was concerned about obesity and overweight in her city, especially among her peers.
Her vision was to create an interactive mobile app, combining active living, healthy eating and gaming. She worked with community members, technology partners and nonprofit organizations to develop the app, which includes walking routes around San Antonio landmarks and other areas of interest and quizzes app users about trivia related to the sites that they visit during their walks. The app is currently being beta tested, but Estrella hopes to obtain additional financing through crowdfunding to further develop the app and make it available for download.94
Choose Healthier is another app being developed through a partnership between the nonprofit organization IT’S TIME TEXAS and Dell Children’s Medical Center.
The app is being targeted initially to residents of Austin, Texas (35.1% Latino), and includes mapped routes for wellness-related activities near the user’s location, such as running and cycling clubs, yoga and Zumba classes, and watersports, among others, which are refreshed on a weekly basis to keep users enticed and active.
Future development goals are to expand the app to other cities across Texas.
More from our Active Spaces & Latino Kids: A Research Review »
- Introduction & Methods
- Key Research Finding: Access to active spaces
- Key Research Finding: Shared use agreements
- Key Research Finding: Unpleasant neighborhood characteristics
- Key Research Finding: Park maintenance and safe streets
- Key Research Finding: Marketing of physical activity (this section)
- Policy Implications
- Future Research Needs
References for this section »
(92) Huhman, M.; Berkowitz, J. M.; Wong, F. L.; Prosper, E.; Gray, M.; Prince, D.; Yuen, J. The VERB Campaign’s Strategy for Reaching African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and American Indian Children and Parents. Am. J. Prev. Med. 2008, 34 (6 Suppl), S194–S209.
(93) Bryant, C. A.; Courtney, A. H.; McDermott, R. J.; Alfonso, M. L.; Baldwin, J. A.; Nickelson, J.; Brown, K. R. M.; Debate, R. D.; Phillips, L. M.; Thompson, Z.; et al. Promoting Physical Activity Among Youth Through Community-Based Prevention Marketing. J. Sch. Health 2010, 80 (5), 214–224.
(94) Salud America! 13-Year-old Creates Interactive App for Youth Fitness and Health in San Antonio. (accessed May 15, 2015).