Salsa, Sabor y Salud: NEW Evaluation Positive findings

clip_image002_0000The National Latino Children’s Institute (NLCI) received a grant from the Walmart Foundation to expand the healthy lifestyles program Salsa, Sabor y Salud in Detroit, MI; Columbus, OH; San Antonio, TX and Washington, DC.

Salsa, Sabor y Salud is a healthy lifestyles program for Latino families with children aged 3-12 year built on four simple messages:

  • Eat from all the food groups every day.
  • Be sensible about portions.
  • Be physically active every day.
  • Take small steps for success.

Developed in 2003, NLCI staff understands that Salsa, Sabor y Salud is a unique program designed to meet the needs of the Latino community. Other programs were translations, and many times incorrect translations. They did not use the strengths of the Latino culture to help families learn the lessons of a healthier lifestyle. In fact, families currently enrolled in Salsa, Sabor y Salud explained that other nutritional programs sought to “take away” their foods, or to tell them to eat foods with which they were unfamiliar. Mothers especially, felt that the programs were not for them, that they did not take into account the importance of the Latino family. Many programs were short seminars that did not embed within the family the knowledge they needed to create change within the family. Other programs were punitive, barring families from attending if they missed one session. There are programs through clinics and other health organizations, but they usually focus on only one family member. While many are successful, they are costly and can only work with a small number of clients.

Other courses only focused on one half of the problem of a healthy lifestyle—either nutrition or physical activity. Families currently enrolled in Salsa, Sabor y Salud have commented that this is the first time they have understood the importance of both healthier eating and being physically active and have seen the positive changes within the family.
The primary goals of the grant were to assist Hispanic families with children 12 and under to:

  • Increase awareness of the benefits of and strategies for healthier eating;
  • Increase knowledge of the benefits of and opportunities for physical activity; and
  • Improve food preparation and consumption practices to incorporate healthy strategies
  • Increase physical activity

This grant provided funding for an evaluator. Preliminary findings suggest that the participants did indeed meet the goals. In the pre- and post- tests submitted it was very clear that the families had learned about healthier eating, with 90% reporting they were eating three healthy meals a day and 94% reducing the consumption of cookies, chips, sodas and candy after attending the eight week program. The change continued after three months. The evaluator noted that:

“Based on post-tests and 3-month follow up test, 90% of participants demonstrated that they had increased knowledge of key nutrition concepts and practices.”

Overall the Salsa, Sabor y Salud program met the nutritional goals of this project and enhanced the knowledge of issues related to nutrition and healthy eating practices.

Likewise, the findings support that the families increased their knowledge of physical activity and increased the amount of time they were physically active.

In the pre-test it was determined that the majority of participants and their families did not participate in physical activities after work or school. The majority of the participants did realize that both eating and physical activity affected their body shape and size. The majority reported that they want to be healthy and physically fit.

Initially 93% of families indicated that they watched TV or played video games after work or school and after completing the eight sessions there was a significant change as this decreased by 66%.  Eighty percent reported that they were physically active as a family 3 to 5 times a week.

Each of the cities in the project has a high need for programs such as these—yet they are often overlooked in favor of larger metropolitan areas. Each city is facing ever increasing numbers of Latinos moving in, but the small overburdened agencies seek ever- shrinking dollars. The Walmart Foundation provided NLCI with the opportunity to go to its partners (new and established) and embed a program that will help families to be healthier, to make better nutrition choices and to have healthier outcomes, especially for the vulnerable populations served by these agencies.



Logo Walmart - National Latino Children's Institute

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are proud to support initiatives that are helping people live better around the globe. In May 2010, Walmart and its Foundation made a historic pledge of $2 billion through 2015 to fight hunger in the U.S. The Walmart Foundation also supports education, workforce development, environmental sustainability, and
health and wellness initiatives. To learn more, visit



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