Abriendo Caminos—Clearing the Path to Hispanic Health

Abriendo Caminos 2


The obesity burden is particularly elevated in Hispanic and other minority communities. Several factors contribute to this burden, including low literacy rates, low household-income, and high prevalence of diseases like diabetes, dyslipidemia, or hypertension. A need exists to implement culturally sensitive lifestyle interventions and educational programs to decrease obesity and obesity-related metabolic diseases in Hispanic populations. A promising approach to reducing obesity risk in Hispanic families is a community-based program targeted at whole families to encourage healthy eating by incorporating elements of traditional Hispanic dietary patterns, collective family mealtimes, and culturally-tailored physical activity. A culturally sensitive, workshop-based curriculum that has been adapted and tested in different regions of the country will provide specialists and community professionals with tools to effectively meet the needs of Hispanic families.


Based on the Abriendo Caminos pilot study that demonstrated an increase in healthy eating behaviors by building on elements of a traditional diet, improving family-meal quality, and increasing physical activity, the goal of this multi-function integrated project is to implement, adapt, and evaluate the effectiveness of a community workshop-based curriculum to prevent childhood obesity and promote healthy nutrition and life-style behaviors among low income, low literacy Hispanic-heritage families in five different locations: California, Illinois, Iowa, Puerto Rico, and Texas. This project will result in an effective, low-cost obesity prevention intervention (available in both Spanish and English) that can be disseminated by educators and community agency staff across the U.S.

Key Points

  • People of Hispanic heritage living in the U.S. are at heightened risk of obesity and obesity-related health threats.
  • Past interventions that have been aimed at Hispanics, mostly school-based, have had limited efficacy.
  • There is an urgent need for affordable, effective, and easy-to-implement community-based interventions.
  • Participation in Abriendo Caminos, the six-week community-based program will significantly increase basic knowledge of nutrition and dietary health.
  • The immediate beneficiaries of this obesity prevention project will be children ages 5- to 18 years-old from Hispanic-heritage families.

Conozca a nuestros estudiantes de la clase 2018/ Meet our class 2018


Contact Info

Educadores de Salud (formerly "Health Ambassadors")


Research Team and Funding Information 

What's Happening 

Abriendo Caminos 1

Research Team

  • Margarita Teran-Garcia, MD, PhD, FTOS, Program Director, Assistant Professor, Human Development and Family Studies
  • Norma E Gonzalez, M.F.A., D.Sc., Program Coordinator, Human Development and Family Studies
  • Barbara Fiese, PhD, Family Resiliency Center Director, Human Development and Family Studies
  • Norma Olvera, PhD, Professor, University of Houston
  • Amber Hammons; PhD, Assistant Professor; Child, Family and Consumer Sciences; California State University, Fresno
  • Maria Plaza-Delestre; PhD; Assistant Professor, Food Science and Technology, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus
  • Nancy Correa-Matos, PhD, Assistant Professor, Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Puerto Rico
  • Kimberly Greder, Associate Professor, Human Development and Family Studies, Iowa State University
  • Bridget Hannon, MS, Graduate Student, Human Development and Family Studies
  • Elizabeth Villegas, MS, Graduate Student, Human Development and Family Studies
  • Viridiana Luna, Graduate Student, Division of Nutritional Sciences


This research is supported by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture as part of the AFRI Childhood Obesity Prevention Challenge (2015-68001-23248) to the University of Illinois.


Norma Gonzalez, M.F.A., D.Sc.
Program Coordinator
Phone: 217-300-0755
Email: abriendo.caminos.uiuc@gmail.com

Se habla Español