I have been working on the Child Health Exercise and Wellness (CHEW) Intervention Program that the Nutrition Department at Mason has been running since January 2016. I was able to see the study go from the early stages when it was still going through IRB approval, to personally having to call potential participants to recruit and screen them for the study, to now in December where we are wrapping up the study by conducting the final 6 month assessment visits.
What got me interested in this study is that it was created to help Latino children and their families in Fairfax combat childhood obesity. Being Latina and majoring in community health, I know that Latinos are at higher risk of becoming overweight/obese. When I heard that my nutrition professor, Dr. Sina Gallo, needed someone who could speak Spanish and was interested in helping the Latino community, I jumped at the opportunity. It is great being able to give back to my community and help provide them with resources that they might not have been able to get have they not enrolled in the intervention.
Being a part of this research study is also beneficial to my career goals. I hope to go into nursing and still be able to educate my community on how to live a healthier life and how to prevent diseases; working on this research study has given me hands on experience on trying to effectively educate a population group. As well as how to create a wellness program that will help treat and/or prevent a certain health condition.
Prior to the start of the intervention, I was recruiting participants and screening them over the phone, as well as translating documents that had to get IRB approval. Once the intervention began and we started collecting data I became in charge of translating the data since it was all in Spanish, inputting the data onto Nutritionist Pro in order to do a nutrition analysis on what the participants were consuming, as well inputting other data we collected throughout the six months of the intervention program. The intervention lasted six months, in which participants met one-on-one with a nutrition educator once month. Now that the intervention is over, we have been conducting the final assessment visit in which participants get a DXA scan, go on the metabolic cart to obtain their resting expenditure, and collect other data in order to compare it to the data collected in the baseline visit; this helps us determine whether there is a significant difference between the control and intervention groups and whether the intervention was effective. Once the final visits are complete we will be doing data analysis. It has been very rewarding seeing the study from start to finish, as well as seeing the impact the program has had on the families.