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Review Article

The skinny on physical activity interventions among Hispanic youth

Ashley L Merianos, Keith A King, Rebecca A Vidourek.

Background: Hispanic youth are a high-risk population that does not meet the recommended amount of physical activity for their age group. Additionally previous research indicates that as Hispanic youth grow older, physical activity significantly decreases overtime. Therefore the purpose of this article is to review physical activity components in previously conducted interventions and examine evidence-based strategies for promoting physical activity behaviors among Hispanic youth. Methods: In March of 2012, a literature search was performed and a total of nine articles were found describing nine intervention programs that met the following inclusion criteria. The present review conducted in 2012 included previous intervention studies that were published in the English language, conducted in the United States, published between the years 2002 and 2012, and focused on Hispanic youth under 18 years of age. Results: Most of the interventions were comprehensive and focused on physical activity, nutrition behaviors, and obesity prevention and ranged from seven weeks to three years duration. Of these interventions, most were school-based and fostered individual-level behavior change. The majority of interventions utilized a behavioral theory. A summary of each was developed, and commonly used physical activity promotion components were identified. More than half of the interventions had a significant impact on the outcomes. Conclusions: Effective strategies and lessons learned from research regarding physical activity promotion and Hispanic youth involvement in physical activity could be more clearly discussed. Recommendations for future programming for Hispanic youth should incorporate culturally appropriate learning materials and physical activities by degree of acculturation. Additionally, family-based strategies and religious-based strategies should be further explored in future interventions to try and increase the success of promoting physical activity behaviors among the Hispanic youth population.

Key words: physical activity, exercise, interventions, Hispanic, Latino, youth, adolescent

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