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Reducing Cancer Health Disparities by Disseminating Evidence-Based Approaches for Energy Balance

Grant: U01 CA86117


This study aimed to assess knowledge, attitudes and behaviors about nutrition and exercise among Latinas over age 40 in a low-income community in Houston, Texas, and the applicability of an evidence-based church program to promote healthy energy balance. Qualitative assessment was conducted in 10 focus groups with 75 women, recruited via three Catholic churches, and 15 personal interviews with community leaders serving this Latino community. Participants identified barriers and enabling factors to healthy nutrition and physical activity. Main barriers were related to lack of awareness, cultural beliefs, and socioeconomic and environmental factors. Preferred strategies involved group activities with direct guidance, interpersonal contact, social support with positive reinforcement for behavior change and/or maintenance, and a friendly environment for learning and achieving suitable goals.


  • Amelie G. Ramirez, DrPH
    IHPR, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio


  • Kipling Gallion, MA
    IHPR, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
  • Patricia Chalela, DrPH
    IHPR, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio


  • National Cancer Institute
  • Diocese of the Galveston-Houston Area
  • Catholic Churches in East End District: Immaculate Conception, Immaculate Heart of Mary, and Our Lady of Guadalupe Church


Catholic Churches in the low-income Hispanic East End District of Houston


Findings from this study suggest that using the church environment to reach Latina women age 40 or older is a feasible and culturally appropriate strategy to improve their health, exercise and nutrition practices. It will provide a safe, comfortable and familiar atmosphere for women, and will address specific cultural barriers and safety concerns of family members.


  • Ramirez, AG, Chalela, P, Gallion, K, & Velez, LF. 2007. Energy  balance  feasibility study for Latinas in Texas: a qualitative assessment. Preventive Chronic Disease, 4, (4), 1-12. (A98 Epub).
  • Van Duyn, MA, McCrae, T, Wingrove, BK, Boyd, JK, Kagawa-Singer, M, Ramirez, AG, et al. 2007. Adapting evidence-based strategies to increase physical activity among African Americans, Hispanics, Hmong, and Native Hawaiians: a social marketing approach. Preventive Chronic Disease, 4, (4), 1-11. (A102 Epub).