Jacqueline Swartz
Field Site Coordinator for Michigan
Keewenaw Bay Indian Community
Hannahville Indian Community

Marla Pardilla
Field Site Coordinator for New Mexico
To’Hajillee Navajo Community
Alamo Navajo Community
Ohkay Owingeh (Pueblo) Community


The overarching goal of this study is to reduce obesity in American Indian (AI) communities, and to improve our understanding of the behavioral and environmental factors that influence obesity in these settings.

We will accomplish this research goal by developing, implementing, and evaluating a randomized controlled community-based trial to improve diet and physical activity (PA) obesity risk behaviors among adult AIs in 6 communities in Michigan and New Mexico.  Obesity Prevention Research and Evaluation of Intervention Effectiveness in Native North Americans (OPREVENT), this novel multilevel intervention trial will function at the community, institution, household and individual levels, and will be implemented in schools, food stores, worksites and health services agencies.  Our research team has run multilevel interventions of the type utilized in this study and we have conducted successful trials with food stores and in Native North American (NNA) schools. We will partner with University Extension staff to modify and implement the program, and to support long-term sustainability.  We will also assess the cost-effectiveness of the intervention.

Primary Aims

  • Develop a sustainable community-based and theoretically-informed obesity prevention program for AI communities through formative research and a collaborative partnership with tribal leadership, health services, schools, food stores, worksites, and local Extension programs.

  • Assess in a community-based randomized controlled trial the impact of the program on obesity risk behaviors, including dietary quality (e.g., fruit and vegetable servings), nutrient intake (e.g., total energy, fat intake) and physical activity (e.g., total PA, % sedentary behavior).

  • Conduct a detailed cost-inventory and a preliminary cost-effectiveness analysis using change in dietary patterns and PA as outcomes.

  • To assess the OPREVENT’s impact on body mass index, waist circumference and % body fat.

  • To conduct mediator and moderator analyses of psychosocial variables in order to understand the mechanisms through which OPREVENT affects behavioral outcomes.

Project Goals

The goal and mission of OPREVENT is to reduce the risk for diabetes and other chronic diseases by improving diet and preventing obesity; obesity is a known risk factor for diabetes.  There are 4 intervention components to this project:

  1. Grocery Stores:  Improve the availability of healthy foods in local food stores by working with grocery store managers to promote healthier alternatives to fatty foods and high sugar foods.  We will promote healthier foods by food demonstrations at local food stores and use educational materials at the grocery stores.
  2. Worksites:  To educate individuals and families to purchase, prepare and consume healthier foods and increase physical activity; make environmental changes and potentially change policies at the worksites.  During intervention, health education will take place at the community work places.
  3. Community/Media:  To educate communities through community-based communication approaches like radio announcements, display of educational materials like posters and flyers about purchasing, preparing and consuming healthier foods, and to increase physical activity.
  4. Schools, Health Departments, Wellness Centers:  We are partnering with local health departments, wellness centers and schools to develop a curriculum for children in grades 2-6 which will be culturally and locally sensitive to that community.
  5. Policy:  The current OP program does not include this component.  This is a new component that is now in design and  development for future tribal  programs.

Study Sites

  • Keewenaw Bay Indian Community
    Baraga, Michigan

  • Hannahville Indian Community
    Wilson, Michigan

  • Ohkay Owingeh Community
    San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico

  • Alamo Navajo Community
    Magdalena, New Mexico

  • To’Hajiilee Navajo Community
    Canoncito, New Mexico

If you would like the data collection forms please email Joel Gittelsohn. 

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