Purpose of Study The Community Health Center in Auburn, Washington, is witnessing a growing number of obese and overweight patients. This trend is consistent with the growing number of cases of diabetes, hypertension, and other chronic illnesses. Current educational materials directed at preventing obesity through diet and exercise are not designed for Spanish-speakers or people of low socioeconomic status, which account for the majority of patients served by the clinic.
Methods An interview with a nutritional counselor was conducted to gather information about current dietary recommendations and strategies for successful diets. Patients were consulted as part of an educational needs assessment to learn about issues affecting eating habits.
Results Convenience and cost were the primary factors influencing the types of foods people eat. Additionally, lack of knowledge about labeling and ingredients affects people's ability to choose healthy foods. For Spanish-speaking patients, language and unfamiliarity with American food affect their eating habits. As a result of these findings, culturally appropriate flashcards were created for English- and Spanish-speaking low-income households to assist them in eating healthfully and economical. Flashcards were distributed during Kids Fair, an event offering free well-child examinations to kids less than 18 years of age. Patients and their parents were educated about nutrition and exercise in Spanish and English and were encouraged to bring the cards to the supermarket for help in choosing cheap and healthy foods. Additional flashcards were left in the clinic waiting room for future distribution.
Conclusion Patient feedback is a valuable resource for developing and improving educational materials. Culturally relevant materials that address the specific needs of a community can facilitate behavioral changes and improve health.
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