Healthy Immigrant Families: Randomized Controlled Trial of a Family-Based Nutrition and Physical Activity Intervention

Mark L. Wieland, Marcelo M.M. Hanza, Jennifer A. Weis, Sonja J. Meiers, Christi A. Patten, Matthew M. Clark, Jeff A. Sloan, Paul J. Novotny, Jane W. Njeru, Adeline Abbenyi, James A. Levine, Miriam Goodson, Graciela D.Porraz Capetillo, Ahmed Osman, Abdullah Hared, Julie A. Nigon, Irene G. Sia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Purpose: To evaluate a healthy eating and physical activity intervention for immigrant families, derived through community-based participatory research. Design: The Healthy Immigrant Families study was a randomized controlled trial with delayed intervention control group, with families as the randomization unit. Setting: US Midwest city. Participants: Participants were recruited by community partners from Hispanic, Somali, and Sudanese immigrant communities. Intervention: Family health promoters from participating communities delivered 6 healthy eating modules, 4 physical activity modules, and 2 modules synthesizing information in 12 home visits (60-90 minutes) within the first 6 months. Up to 12 follow-up phone calls to each participant occurred within the second 6 months. Measures: Primary measures were dietary quality measured with weekday 24-hour recall and reported as Healthy Eating Index score (0-100) and physical activity measured with accelerometers (14 wear days) at baseline, 6, 12, and 24 months. Results: In total, 151 persons (81 adolescents and 70 adults; 44 families) were randomly assigned. At 12 months, significant improvement occurred in Healthy Eating Index scores for adults in the intervention group compared with controls (change, +8.6 vs −4.4; P <.01) and persisted at 24 months (+7.4 from baseline; P <.01). No differences were observed for adolescents and no significant differences occurred between groups for physical activity. Conclusion: This intervention produced sustained dietary quality improvement among adults but not among adolescents. Program outcomes are relevant to communities working to decrease cardiovascular risk among immigrant populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)473-484
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • community-based participatory research
  • dietary quality
  • immigrant–refugee health
  • physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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