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Cambridge Health Alliance and Concilio Hispano launch healthy living program for young Latina women

January 3, 2007

Cambridge, MA –  Cambridge Health Alliance and Concilio Hispano are launching a 12-week program in January aimed at helping young Latina women eat healthier and be more active. 

Latinas Living Better will give workshops on nutrition, fitness, and body image to overweight teens and young adults, including young mothers. Chefs and nutrition educators from Boston-based Share Our Strength will teach cooking classes and lead field trips to local supermarkets. All activities will be offered in Spanish and English. 

The goal of Latinas Living Better is to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes, a chronic disease associated with obesity and inactivity. According to survey data, about 67% of Hispanic women living in the United States are overweight or obese.

The program is actively recruiting 16- to 24- year-old Latina women who are patients at Cambridge Health Alliance and clients of Concilio Hispano, a human services agency located in the Area 4 neighborhood.  A number of participants are recent immigrants from Central America and the Dominican Republic. 

“Many of these women lead stressful lives and have low self esteem,” said Sylvia Saavedra-Keber, executive director of Concilio Hispano. “This affects what they’re eating and also what they’re feeding their kids.”

She added that young Latina immigrants are often quick to embrace America’s fast food culture. “It’s easier and more exciting to go to McDonald’s than to make rice and beans,” she said. Saavedra-Keber is optimistic that Latinas Living Better will help her clients feel better about themselves and learn how to cook healthier versions of traditional Latin dishes.

Elizabeth Prout, M.D., a pediatrician at Cambridge Health Alliance who is also involved in the project, believes that if the Latinas program is successful, it could be a stepping-stone to expanding overweight treatment services in Cambridge.

Latinas Living Better is based at the Cambridge Public Health Department.  Project partners include Cambridge Health Alliance, the Institute for Community Health, and Concilio Hispano. While the program is targeting young Latinas, it is also open to women of other races, ethnicities, and ages.

The program is funded by a grant from the Office of Women’s Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 


Suzy Feinberg, MPH
Public Information Officer

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