Background: Despite universal environmental and policy-focused initiatives that resulted in declines in obesity among children in Cambridge, Massachusetts, disparities persist among racial/ethnic groups. In response, a community coalition formed the Healthy Eating and Living Project (HELP), to investigate and disseminate findings regarding disparities in excess weight among Cambridge Black youth (ages 6–14), with the aim of facilitating reciprocal learning and community mobilization to ultimately increase community engagement and inform prevention efforts.

Objectives: This paper details the theoretical framework, methods, and results of disseminating HELP findings to various sectors of the Cambridge Black/African American (Black) community.

Methods: First, using a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach, the HELP coalition analyzed existing data and conducted qualitative studies with Cambridge Black families to better understand the sociocultural and familial determinants of excess weight. We then developed presentation and print materials and used different dissemination approaches. We solicited feedback to inform the dissemination process and mobilization of obesity prevention efforts.

Results: We disseminated information through six community groups (parents, students, pastors, men’s health group, community leaders, and a health coalition), email lists, and websites. Reciprocal learning among and between HELP and community members yielded data presentation challenges, as well as prevention effort ideas and barriers.

Conclusion: Dissemination of local health data should be considered both as a strategy to increase community engagement and as an intervention to promote collective efficacy and community change. Careful attention should be dedicated to the language used when communicating racial disparities in excess weight to various community groups.


Additional Information

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pp. 289-298
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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