September 16, 2016


Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) announced a $635,101.00 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). The funding will go towards a UTSA College of Education and Human Development study that will evaluate the efficacy of the early childhood obesity prevention program “Míranos! Look at Us, We Are Healthy!” which promotes healthy growth of predominantly Latino children in Head Start.
“When kids are healthy in early childhood, the odds are better they’ll be healthier as adolescents and adults,” said Rep. Castro. “Obesity is a real problem in San Antonio, and it greatly contributes to our city’s high rates of diabetes, heart disease, and other weight-related medical problems. With this funding, UTSA will help determine if we’re pursuing effective strategies to prevent the onset of obesity in children. Ensuring folks start life on a healthy foot improves the likelihood that later on they won’t suffer the physical and financial hardships that accompany chronic illness.”
Early childhood obesity is a complex health problem that tracks into adolescence and adulthood and leads to increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, as well as psychosocial and economic burdens. Currently, there is limited evidence on effective prevention strategies based on randomized controlled trials of children aged 2-5 years. Since the Míranos! program has been tailored for Latino preschool children and parents following recent recommendations and guidelines for obesity prevention targeting child care and home environments, the UTSA study this HHS funding supports can contribute to the evidence base on this important public health problem. 
“The student is intended to provide much-needed evidence-based guidance on policy and practices at early childhood education centers and enhance parental support at home to promote healthy habits and prevent obesity,” said Dr. Zenong Yin, Loretta J. Lowak Clarke Distinguished Professor in Health and Kinesiology of Department of Kinesiology, Health and Nutrition at The University of Texas at San Antonio and co-principal investigator. 

"Partnering with UTSA and Head Start centers in San Antonio allows us to put current research into practice. Integrating the evidence into real-world settings holds promise for a meaningful and sustainable impact on the health of our community," said Dr. Deborah Parra-Medina, Director of the Latino Research Initiative at the University of Texas at Austin and co-principal investigator.  
The Míranos! program includes center-based (policy changes, staff development, gross motor program, and nutrition education) and home-based (parent engagement/education and home visits) interventions to address key enablers and barriers in obesity prevention in young children. 

"Providing full wrap around services to the families of Head Start is a cornerstone of this program,” said Nancy L. Hard, President/CEO of the Family Service Association. “The support that will be provided by UTSA through the Miranos! project will expand the opportunity to share additional knowledge with those most in need in our community."