Study: Teaching Latinos How to Buy Healthier Foods


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Editor’s Note: This is a 20-part series featuring new research briefs on Latino childhood obesity, nutrition, physical activity and more by the 20 grantees of Salud America! Part 16 is Dr. Dharma Cortes. Find all briefs here.

Dr. Dharma Cortes

Dr. Dharma Cortes
“Improving Food Purchasing Selection among Low-Income Latinos”

In her Salud America! pilot research project, Dr. Dharma Cortes of the University of Massachusetts Boston used an educational intervention (i.e., guidelines geared to ease understanding of nutrition) to try to improve food purchasing behaviors and thus increase healthy eating among low-income Spanish-speaking Latino families with children under age 18.

Key preliminary findings include:

  • low-income Latino families spent one-third of their income on food;
  • much of the food purchased by Latino families was calorie-dense, low in fiber and high in fat, sodium and carbohydrates;
  • giving feedback to families about their food receipts’ nutritional analyses provided an opportunity for researchers to recommend changes in purchasing patterns; and
  • many families adopted instructions on buying budget-friendly, healthier alternative foods.

Results suggest the need to develop tailored social marketing messages and other communication strategies to promote healthy food purchasing and consumption practices among Latinos.

Specifically, this project observed the need to deliver messages that are developed with an understanding of Latino food preferences and the challenges that low-income families face when shopping for healthier food.

Read more here.

Salud America! is an RWJF national program directed by the Institute for Health Promotion Research at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, the team behind SaludToday.

By The Numbers By The Numbers



of Latino kids have obesity (compared to 11.7% of white kids)

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