5 Hispanic-focused health resources
Published: September 29, 2023
National Hispanic Heritage Month began September 15, with the celebration of Hispanic contributions to the United States continuing through October 15.
At the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, we are committed to improving the well-being of Hispanic populations in Texas and across the United States through community engagement, culturally sensitive intervention programs, and promotion of health policies focused on better outcomes. To introduce you to our work, we’ve gathered five Hispanic-focused health resources, publications, and projects developed at our Center. Make sure to follow along on social media as we will continue sharing more resources throughout the month.
TX RPC Project Resource
The Texas Research-to-Policy Collaboration (TX RPC) Project optimizes the use of Texas research, data, and resources to assist legislators in developing effective health policies.
Supporting economic access to health foods is the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as SNAP, which positively impacts health outcomes for children, older adults, and people with disabilities. In 2022, approximately 41 million United States residents received SNAP benefits, but more were eligible, creating what’s known as the SNAP gap.
Nonenrollment has been associated with several factors, including race/ethnicity — with Hispanic individuals less likely to be enrolled in SNAP benefits. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, six months of SNAP participation was associated with a 5-10% decrease in reported food insecurity, making reduction of the SNAP gap an appealing approach to improving health both nationally and by state.
In a simulation of Austin’s food environment, Drs. Nalini Ranjit and Alexandra van den Berg evaluated different food access policies for their influence on vegetable consumption in low-income, predominantly Hispanic populations. Among the policies were farm stands, mobile markets, healthy corner stores, and expansion of economic access to vegetables.
The researchers made three main conclusions:
- Policies should not heavily rely on healthy corner stores to increase vegetable intake.
- Free vegetables for low-income residents may yield notable increases in vegetable intake, but there are possible economic, political, and/or implementation challenges.
- Increasing geographic access to Fresh for Less Mobile Markets is a more realistic alternative legislators can consider to help provide healthy grocery items at a lower cost to Texans.
Low-income communities often are not able to meet daily fruit and vegetable recommendations; Drs. Ru-Jye Chuang and Shreela V. Sharma worked with a team of researchers to understand why. Specifically, the group sought to understand the association between produce shopping behaviors and consumption by children.
In their study of surveys from Hispanic and Black participants who were enrollees of the Brighter Bites project, which distributes fresh produce and nutrition education to predominantly low-income families, they learned two key points:
- Low-income minority families are less likely to shop for produce at organic markets and farmers’ markets.
- Nutrition education for all ages is necessary for increasing fruit and vegetable consumption by children.
Since 2000, Texas SPAN — led by Principal Investigator Deanna Hoelscher, PhD — has monitored health trends (diet, physical activity/sedentary behavior, oral health) in Texas school-aged children. The project’s digital Data Explorer has several search criteria, including region, which lets users see statewide, border county, and non-border county data stratified by gender or race/ethnicity.
Social Media, Acculturation, and E-cigarette Use Among Mexican-American College Students in Texas (Project VAMOS)
Dr. Anna Wilkinson’s research generally focuses on e-cigarette use, but in Project VAMOS, she specifically studies the impact of social media and acculturation on vape use by Mexican-American undergraduate students.
Written by Kirsten Handler, communication specialist at the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living.