Theoretical Background and research questions/hypothesis: Salud America! The RWJF Research Network to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Children is a national online network of parents, leaders, academics, and advocates dedicated to working to solve Latino childhood obesity. Salud America! aims to build the research, education, and materials needed to reverse the obesity epidemic among Latino children via several areas, including marketing.
Methods: The Salud America! Growing Healthy Change website is a first-of-its-kind online platform with geo-located marketing and policy initiatives, resources and small campaigns for taking action, and “Salud Hero” videos that demonstrate the steps people took to make healthy changes, including better promotion of healthy foods in schools and corner stores, public health marketing campaigns, and using digital education and marketing to motivate healthy lifestyles. In addition, the team behind Salud America!also translates these materials and stories into SaludToday social media messages and tweetchats on Twitter, which have been successful in driving conversations around marketing and healthy lifestyles among Latino kids. All these communication activities are grounded in social cognitive theory and we are starting to employ new social media and social marketing concepts in their promotion.
Results: Our communications activites are designed to inform and encourage stakeholders in Latino childhood obesity (LCO) to seek ways to influence and increase the public dialogue on LCO. As of March 2015, our SA! Network has over 50,000 registered members. We conduct weekly Tweetchats that have generated over 10 million impressions. We have currated over 500 policies across the U.S., written over 100 Salud Hero! Stories about people making positive changes in their communities and we have made 50 of those stories into videos. Some of those videos have over 30,000 views on YouTube. We conduct petition campaigns relating to LCO which over 50,000 people have signed up. Our work continues.
Conclusions: There are many ways to change public health behaviors and policies. For us a key strategy is to reprioritize the public agenda regarding LCO. We continue to do this by creating, curating and dissseminating news and information on real people making small but important changes in Latino communities across the U.S that impacts LCO.
Implications for research and/or practice: Strategic use communication messages, channels and other resources can beneficially impact the public’s salience and uptake of important public health issues across different audiences. More research is needed to determine how best to harness new and emerging media channels and messaging strategies to reduce LCO.