36674 Social Media and the Internet: A Potential Platform for Hispanic Women to Achieve a Healthier Weight

Nancy Rodriguez, MPH1, Lonnie Resser, MPH2, Leslie Lopez, MPH3, Loretta Denering, DrPH, MS4 and Diana Ramos, MD, MPH4, 1Maternal, Child and, Adolescent Health Programs -- Reproductive Health Unit, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA, 2Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Department - Reproductive Health Unit, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA, 3Choose Health LA Moms, Los Angeles, CA, 4Reproductive Health, Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health- Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA

Background:  In Los Angeles County, 57% of reproductive aged Hispanic women are overweight or obese. 60% of the 133,000 births in the County are to Hispanic women.  Maternal overweight and obesity are linked to poor birth outcomes and lower breastfeeding rates.  Nationally, 92% of new moms use text messaging and access the Internet more often than others in the general population.  Hispanics in the U.S are the ethnic group with the highest use of text messaging among all socio-economic levels.  The aim of the focus group results presented here was to ascertain the utility and ease of participating in a self-initiated postpartum weight loss program-Choose Health LA MOMs.

Program background:  LA MOMs, a six-month weight management program for new moms, is delivered via text messaging/internet programs and uses social media to reinforce program recommendations.  An assessment of the social determinants of health at the beginning of the program identifies any potential barriers that may preclude participation.  LA MOMs begins immediately postpartum and focuses on 3 interventions: breastfeeding, walking and increasing water consumption. Weekly text messages link them to educational modules focusing on the theme for the week.

Evaluation Methods and Results:  102 Hispanic women participated in focus groups to assess the feasibility of promoting a postpartum weight management program using the Internet and text messaging.  A baseline questionnaire addressing demographic, mobile phone/internet use and social media was used. Descriptive and qualitative analysis was performed. 53% of the Hispanics were foreign born, 43% were U.S. born.  Most respondents lived in “low income” zip code areas.  2% of respondents had less than high school education, 40% completed high school, and 58% had 1-2 years of college or more. 98% of respondents had a smartphone and access the Internet via their phone, and 80% had unlimited text messaging. 15.38% (16/102) were overweight and 50% (51/102) were obese. Qualitative focus group feedback revealed a general consensus among Hispanic women that health information available over the Internet is useful and provides easier access to resources through links and videos.  Most preferred education and interventions for health improvement to be interactive by using text messaging and sharing on social media-Facebook and Twitter.  Women cited that lack of transportation and feeling overwhelmed with too many doctors’ appointments were barriers to participating in other in-person health programs.  Mothers welcomed receiving social media support from other moms and saw this as an incentive to participate in LA MOMs.  Most use Facebook daily and liked the idea of learning health information while doing something they already enjoy.  Text messages were a good reminder and motivator to continue the program. 

Conclusions:  Hispanic women of reproductive age are already using text messaging, the Internet and social media daily.  Delivering a postpartum weight management program through communication platforms they already use is welcome and useable, especially for moms who choose to limit going out of the home after delivery, a period culturally referred to as cuarentena.

Implications for research and/or practice:  Other health and public health initiatives can model LA MOMs and meet the interactive self-initiated health improvement movement among the general population.