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UA pilot program seeks to teach mindfulness, combat obesity among Latino youth

Posted at 7:13 AM, Oct 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-17 10:59:02-04

Researchers at the University of Arizona have developed a new pilot program to help determine whether mindfulness will help kids better deal with stress and ultimately avoid chronic diseases like obesity or diabetes. 

The program, Saludable, was designed to be six weeks long.

The first graduating class of the program was a group of kids from a rural community in Maricopa County. 

During the program, the kids were taught mindfulness techniques to help them be healthier at home, like better portion control and even some simple ways to exercise. 

"We recruited children between the ages of eight and 13 years old and the health topics we taught them were about heart health, food portion control, and stress reduction techniques," said Catherine Ornelas, a University of Arizona student who took part in the program. 

Instructors were also able to learn and pinpoint stresses impacting students at home.

"When their first meal would come, when would be their last meal because they would mostly get their meals from school or that community center," said Ornelas. 

Professionals also tracked the blood pressure and weight of the students in the program to help determine whether or not the program had any impact on them. 

"We measured their blood pressure and their weight and we saw that there were numerous health changes into them," said Ornelas. 

In the coming weeks, the program will be holding a few workshops in Tucson to continue collecting more data.