Hispanic Youth Nutritional Messaging Preferences in an mHealth Intervention – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Hispanic Youth Nutritional Messaging Preferences in an mHealth Intervention

Jackson Bergman


Pronouns: He/him/his

Research Mentor(s): Susan Woolford, Associate Professor
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Pediatrics, Michigan Medicine
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 5 (3pm-3:50pm)
Breakout Room: Room 11
Presenter: 7

Event Link


Background: There is a disparity in the prevalence of obesity for Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx adolescents living in the United States compared to non-Hispanic White youth. One factor that influences this disparity is a lack of culturally relevant nutrition education for the Hispanic population. Previous studies have identified the need for more effective cultural tailoring and improved translations in order to overcome linguistic barriers and enhance the understanding of nutritional topics. Advances in technology, and obtaining messaging content preferences from Hispanic youth may provide a means of rectifying these cultural barriers and increase the efficacy of health behavior interventions. Methods: In Spring/Summer 2021 the study team conducted an online survey. Using UMHealthResearch.org and Facebook Advertising, Hispanic/LatinX adolescents who were between 13 and 17 years, and frequented fast food restaurants, were recruited to take the 40 item survey. Participants were asked to indicate their preference when presented with messages delivering similar content but different tones (e.g., motivational interviewing vs. direct messages), level of detail (e.g., specific vs. general nutrition information), and Spanish language preferences. Descriptive data were calculated and are presented below. Results: Most of the participants (n=22) were male (55%) and the average age was 16 years old. When presented with messages with a Direct tone vs a Motivation Interviewing (MI) tone, most participants preferred direct messages (64%). Participants showed a preference for messages that included the caloric content of the food suggestions as well as those offering specific menu item suggestions (in comparison to messages with general suggestions). The respondents (all of whom identified as Hispanic/Latinx), showed an almost equal preference for messages being in English or Spanglish instead of Spanish. Spanish nutritional messages that incorporated words commonly known in English, which normally do not have a direct translation in Spanish, were preferred (95%) over the same messages incorporating both the English and Spanish versions of the words (ex. “Light” (Ligero)). In regards to the gender preferences within the Spanish language, messages written with the typical gendered version of words were preferred over versions of the words containing “o/a/x” or “@” or having messages being tailored by gender. Conclusion: Language and messaging preferences were identified and will be used to inform nutrition messaging content for Hispanic/Latinx youth. The results will guide future research addressing the preferences Hispanic/Latinx youth have regarding health-based messages using an objective, systematic approach. More research needs to be conducted on a larger scale in order to increase the effectiveness of nutrition messaging content tailored to Hispanic/Latinx youth and the Hispanic/Latinx population at large.

Authors: Jackson Bergman, Juliet Villegas, Aria Grabowski, Theresa Kowalski-Dobson, Susan Woolford
Research Method: Clinical Research

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