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Assessing Child Obesity and Physical Activity in a Hard-to-Reach Population in California’s Central Valley, 2012–2013

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Assessing Child Obesity and Physical Activity in a Hard-to-Reach Population in California’s Central Valley, 2012–2013

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Assessing Child Obesity and Physical Activity in a Hard-to-Reach Population in California’s Central Valley, 2012–2013

Sara E. Schaefer, PhD; Rosa Camacho-Gomez, PhD; Banefsheh Sadeghi, MD, PhD; Lucia Kaiser, PhD; J. Bruce German, PhD; Adela de la Torre, PhD

Suggested citation for this article: Schaefer SE, Camacho-Gomez R, Sadeghi B, Kaiser L, German JB, de la Torre A. Assessing Child Obesity and Physical Activity in a Hard-to-Reach Population in California’s Central Valley, 2012–2013. Prev Chronic Dis 2015;12:140577. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd12.140577.


In California’s agricultural Central Valley, the rate of childhood obesity is higher than the national average. Adequate physical activity contributes to obesity prevention and its assessment is useful to evaluate the impact of interventions.
Niños Sanos, Familia Sana (Healthy Children, Healthy Family [NSFS]) uses community-based participatory research to implement an intervention program to reduce childhood obesity among people of Mexican origin in the Central Valley. Anthropometric measurements were conducted on more than 650 children enrolled in NSFS. Physical activity data from a subgroup of children aged 4 to 7 years (n = 134) were collected via a wearable accelerometer.
Children were classified on the basis of age and sex-adjusted body mass index as healthy weight (57.7%); overweight (19.3%), or obese (23%). Logistic regression showed that moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) was associated with a child’s likelihood of having a healthy BMI (odds ratio: 1.03; 95% CI, 1.01–1.05; P = .017).
NSFS’s community-based participatory approach resulted in successful use of a commercial electronic device to measure physical activity quantity and quality in this hard-to-reach population. Promotion of adequate daily MVPA is an appropriate and necessary component of NSFS’s childhood obesity prevention strategy.


We thank the following individuals and agencies: Maria Rangel, NSFS Site Coordinator, Judith Martinez, NSFS Nutrition Educator, Ivan Garcia, NSFS Administrative Assistant, the advisory council and promotores in Firebaugh and San Joaquin, the Firebaugh Las Deltas Unified School District and the Golden Plains Unified School District. Niños Sanos, Familia Sana (Healthy Children, Healthy Family) is funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the US Department of Agriculture, grant no. 2011-68001-30167.

Author Information

Corresponding Author: Sara E. Schaefer, PhD, Foods for Health Institute, 2141 Robert Mondavi Institute, One Shields Ave, Davis, CA 95616. Telephone: 530-574-0797. Email:seschaefer@ucdavis.edu.
Author Affiliations: Rosa Camacho-Gomez, Banefsheh Sadeghi, Adela de la Torre, Center for Transnational Health, University of California, Davis, California; Lucia Kaiser, Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis, California. J. Bruce German, Foods for Health Institute, University of California, Davis, California.


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