Fellowship Site: Centro de Excelencia en Enfermedades Crónicas, Lima, Peru
U.S. Institution: Florida International University
Project Title: A social network analysis of obesity in Northern Peru
The proposed project will be an ancillary study as part of a larger ongoing study being conducted in Tumbes, Peru. Currently, CRONICAS Center of Excellence in Chronic Diseases is investigating the potential of a salt substitute to reduce blood pressure in the Peruvian population. The parent study includes 2,376 participants and about 1,000 families living in six villages in the Tumbes region of northern coastal Peru. A subset (two villages) of the participating population will be recruited for the proposed study. While participation in the parent study is limited to adults 18 years of age and older, we plan to expand this ancillary study to include children two years and older of original participants. The proposed project will investigate the role of social networks in the prevalence of obesity and overweight among adults and children living in Tumbes, Peru. The obesity epidemic is a global health crisis and has become one of the predominant public health concerns facing Latin America. Rapid increases in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in many Latin American countries is due in part to economic development and nutrition transitions. Peru is one such country undergoing a nutrition transition. Overweight and obesity are increasing in prevalence among the Peruvian population, particularly those residing in urban areas such as Lima and the coastal regions. Recent studies have found that more than half (53 percent) of the Peruvian population has a BMI of 25 or greater, which qualifies them minimally as pre-obese. Moreover, overweight and obesity is expanding to youngest individuals, and nowadays, both conditions are much more common among children. Thus, the emerging epidemic warrants further research into the environmental and social determinants of obesity within the Peruvian population. This study will expand upon previous research that indicates that obesity may spread in predictable patterns within family and social networks. This study will seek to further understand the potential for social ties and social interactions to influence norms about weight status among Peruvians. The study will be guided by the Social Network Theory and seek to understand the role of social relationships on the adoption of obesity preventive behaviors such as exercise and diet.