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UC creates nutrition education videos to reach diverse, low-literacy communities

The Issue

Successful promotion of healthy eating behaviors and an active lifestyle is important for the health and well-being of everyone, including low-income families from diverse backgrounds. This is especially critical for minority communities, who are increasingly at risk for obesity, being overweight, and chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer due to a host of social, cultural, and environmental factors.

Critical barriers to nutrition education include cultural and linguistic challenges such as the lack of culturally appropriate information and materials, diverse levels of acculturation and health literacy, and limited English proficiency.

Studies show that visual materials and bilingual videos that are culturally responsive and literacy appropriate help participants acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behavior necessary for nutritional well-being.

Our objectives were to develop videos and visual handouts that would enhance the effectiveness of nutrition education with diverse populations, including recent refugees and immigrants.

What Has ANR Done?

The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is administered by the University of California and serves low-income youth and families with young children. For this project, California EFNEP collaborated on a multistate effort to examine the efficacy of visual handouts and short video clips to communicate nutrition education messages to Hmong communities in California, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Focus groups and interviews with the participants demonstrated the need for tools that encourage food resource management skills like planning ahead and using store ads, and that address how to increase consumption of vegetables and calcium-rich foods.

Three video clips were produced with Hmong community members and nutrition educators using storytelling, teaching presentations, and dramatic problem posing to promote dialogue around solutions. Visual handouts conveying the key messages of each video were also developed for educators working in situations without access to screening technology.

The Payoff

Videos are well accepted and enhance behavior change.

A total of 279 participants in the EFNEP program and 8 Hmong nutrition educators viewed the materials. Evaluation data shows that the visuals and videos were positively viewed as helpful, culturally acceptable, and accessible.

Among the 166 California Hmong graduates, positive behavior change was evident. Consumption of dairy products more than doubled, 44 percent of graduates improved their use of store ads or looking for sales when shopping for food, 43 percent improved their practice of planning and making a "list" of what to buy, 21 percent drank more water (rather than soda), and 37 percent increased their daily physical activity (doing 30 minutes of exercise each day).

These videos and handouts not only increased access to nutrition education for traditionally underserved communities, they also helped participants build their capacity to effectively put what they learned into practice. They also provide a useful model for reaching other low-literacy communities served by the EFNEP program.


Supporting Unit: Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

California Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, Statewide Office.
Lisa Peterson, lpeterson@ucdavis.edu, (530) 304-3918