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Global Obesity Prevention Center

Health Support Networks for Preventing Childhood Obesity in Home Visitation Programs

Project Lead: Kayla de la Haye, PhD




Health Support StudyIn 2015, two novel and promising childhood obesity initiatives were introduced to Antelope Valley, CA; a large, diverse, and under-resourced neighborhood in Los Angeles County where 20.3% of children are obese. The first family-based initiative delivers an evidence-based nutrition and physical activity curriculum called COPE (Childhood Obesity Prevention at homE / Contrarrestar Obesidad: Programa por ninos En casa) through an established Home Visitation Program (HVP). 

COPE targets parent behavior, the home environment, and families’ access to healthy resources, to prevent the onset of obesity in children from birth. HVPs traditionally provide in-home services to low-income mothers and their children to address multiple areas of wellbeing. This is the first time the HVP infrastructure will be utilized to prevent obesity in early childhood. 

Health Support Study 2_milkCoinciding with the delivery of COPE is a second community-based health initiative promoting connections between residents and organizations that are committed to promoting health and reducing obesity (e.g., health care providers, food vendors, exercise facilities). A social media campaign and “Wellness Challenge” encourages residents to visit these “health partner” organizations to engage in healthy eating and exercise.

Although the main goal of these initiatives is to promote healthy eating and activity, they also aim to foster social and organizational connections, and increased access to resources and social capital, to remove barriers to adopting and maintaining healthy behaviors. By intervening at multiple points in this community system, these initiatives are likely to change profoundly the socio-ecological health networks of under-resourced families with young children in this community. This study exploits this opportunity to evaluate change in the “health support networks” of low-income families with young children, and the role these networks play in preventing childhood obesity.

Health Study 3This study will recruit low-income families with infants living in Antelope Valley to assess the people and organizations that provide them with health-related support, and how these health support networks change in response to the COPE and Wellness Challenge initiatives. We adopt a systems perspective by measuring, modeling, and simulating the dynamics of multiple dimensions of families’ health support networks: i.e., interpersonal and organizational connections, and multivariate relationships of health-related support, information flow, and opposition. Social network analyses (SNA) will be used to understand the role of health
support networks in the reach, effectiveness, adoption,
implementation, and maintenance of these initiatives. 



Phase One: Longitudinal research and primary data collection.

 Phase Two: Social network analysis and simulations.

Sample Presentations:

  1. Salvy, S.J., de la Haye, K., & Frick, M. (March, 2015). Health Support Networks for Preventing Childhood Obesity in Home Visitation Programs. Society for Research in Child Development 2015 Biennial Meeting, Philadelphia, PA. 
  2. de la Haye, K., Salvy, S.J. (June, 2015). Health Support Networks for Preventing Childhood Obesity in Home Visitation Programs. XXXV Sunbelt Conference of the International Network for Social Network Analysis, Brighton, UK. 

Additional Information:
To learn more, please email the Global Obesity Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins here.