Healthy From Birth For Life: Peer Education as a Strategy to Combat Adolescent Obesity and Promote Preconception Health

Publication/Presentation Date

Summer 2010


Obesity among youth continues to be a significant public health issue. Obesity during youth is associated with poor health outcomes and its occurrence has been linked to maternal influences. Lack of knowledge about healthy lifestyle choices is related to youth obesity. Preconception care for women and men has been shown to offer opportunities for obesity and related chronic disease prevention and overall health promotion, e.g., improved birth outcomes. In 2006, a social marketing campaign targeting adolescents at high risk for poor birth outcomes in two New York zip codes was developed and is still being implemented. A total of 486 youth completed self-administered needs assessment questionnaires regarding healthy lifestyle choices related to obesity and diabetes. Results reflected 64% had inadequate knowledge about overweight risk factors. A peer education program was created to target youth at-risk for obesity by providing preconception health education. Youth participate in weekly workshops on preconception health topics, and incorporate knowledge gained from workshops, results of surveys and qualitative data from focus groups into an ongoing social marketing campaign. A total of 267 adolescents have participated to date. The campaign has three phases: phase 1 promotes physical activity and proper nutrition; phase 2 focuses on the connection between unhealthy lifestyles and chronic diseases; and phase 3 focuses on the impact of obesity and chronic disease on birth outcomes. Pre-and post-assessment indicated increased awareness about obesity and preconception health. This program also augmented self-esteem in youth participants and represents a promising model for preconception health.





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Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Health Services Research | Medicine and Health Sciences | Public Health | Public Health Education and Promotion


Department of Community Health and Health Studies

Document Type