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The Latino population in the US is characterized by having higher risks of diabetes and cardiovascular disease than other population groups. Acculturation, poor dietary habits, loss of traditional social networks and low-income have a negative impact on health and nutritional status of the Latino families. The (U.S.) Census estimates the Latino community in Franklin County grew by 31 percent from 2000 to 2006, but there are signs that the growth is even higher. Latino Americans make up the largest minority group in the US and the numbers are expected to increase.


Healthy Latinos program is a community based health initiative that focuses on cardiovascular health and diabetes prevention for Latino families. We started in August 2004. The program is managed by Centro Esperanza Latina/CEL (Center for Latin Hope). The program offers fitness, nutrition and cooking classes. Healthy Latinos ended the 6th year of programming on December 2010. The Nutrition and Cooking classes are offered by a nutrition educator referred from OSU Human Nutrition Dept. For the fitness classes; we contracted professional trainers.

We made a research program with OSU during the first 2 years; Hugo Melgar-Quiñonez, a nutrition specialist with Ohio State University Extension, and his research team in the Department of Human Nutrition which includes two Latino professionals in public health and nutrition conducted before-and-after health assessments to evaluate the program’s effectiveness. Because our success on the research and the impact we had, we continue with the program. The next 4 years we partnered with Ohio Health for the pre and post Health screenings.

On 2007 we add to the model a new component “Child and Youth Obesity”. We include in our annual program, classes for the young ones. (7yrs-13yrs.) They received Fitness classes and Physical activities, Nutrition classes using computers and internet (interactive games and activities) Special projects (recycling, gardening, craft, etc.) The classes were weekly, twice a week after school hours (3 hrs.) each day. Also they participate on field trips and monthly events. At the end of the cycle, they graduate and received a certificate. At the present we graduated 4 youth groups. (120 participants)

The program is held at our Latino Center on the west side of Columbus, the classes are free and also includes childcare, snacks, monthly, family events and child & youth activities.

Healthy Latinos was funded by the Ohio Commission on Minority Health. (2004-2006) Columbus Medical Association foundation (2006-2007), Ohio Commission on Minority Health (2008-2009). Private Funds (2010).



The goal of Healthy Latinos is to develop a community-based program model to improve cardiovascular health and reduce diabetes in Latino Families. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Hispanics are twice as likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites, and more than 70 percent of Mexican-Americans are overweight.


Culturally specific programming and a family / social network model to affect lasting behavioral health change.

Eighty (80) Latino families comprise the target population each year, At the present CEL has 480 families as part of our program and an impact on more than 2,000 families.

Project Activities: Each participant accomplishes the following activities:
1. Individual assessments to evaluate their health and fitness habits.
2. Specific cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes health screens for each participant
3. Each participant commit to a personal health, nutrition, cooking, and fitness plan.
4. Families create social network plans like participation in Community-based events
5. Families complete post-test assessments to record personal health and progress
6. Families participate in an end-of-year celebration event and receive their certificates.
7. Select families, who complete the leadership program, conduct orientation meetings for new Latino families. Train the trainer leaders; we select each year 10 families. At the present we have already 40 leaders working with us.

The Healthy Latinos program ended 6 years of activities with:

1. About 2,000 families (West Side of Columbus) engaged in the program and with the knowledge of how to live a Healthy Lifestyle.

2. 60 Leaders impacting the community each day with their healthy habits and mentoring. Some of them and because their hard performance are working in our organization as a paid staff and others as a volunteers.

3. A Fitness Video/DVD that shows the model, testimonies and an exercises class for any person who wants to try our fitness class ( warm-up, cardio, legs, arms, abs, cool down).

4. A Cooking Book “Herencia Latina” (Latin Heritage) This nutritious collection of flavorful and healthy recipes has been produced by the experience of Latin women from different countries. Women that not only participated in the “Healthy Latinos” program, but also combined their abilities with the inheritance of their families to gather this wonderful collection. Each one of the recipes has been screened by a nutritionist and supervised by the department of Human Nutrition of the Ohio State University and includes the nutrition values.

5. A Web page with all our program activities and testimonies.:


GIANELLA E. Martinez, M.A
Centro Esperanza Latina
Executive Director


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