This research project has ended. View a list of current research projects or past projects.

Also see Healthy Children, Strong Families (HCSF) 2.

Research Team

Alexandra Adams, MD, PhD
Kate Cronin, MPH
Tara LaRowe, PhD
Ron Prince, MS
Jamie Rose Scott, MS
Sam Dennis, PhD
Charlanne Fitzgerald, MPH

In collaboration with member Tribal Communities

Project Goal

Healthy lifestyle changes to promote long-term wellness.


This research will develop and test interventions to improve the nutrition and physical activity environment for obesity and CVD prevention in Wisconsin American Indian (AI) children. It will build on previously successful NARCH collaborations and community-based participatory research with 3 Wisconsin tribes, the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council and the University of Wisconsin. This project will 1) test the effectiveness of a mentored home-visiting and group support intervention to improve nutrition and physical activity levels in AI preschoolers and their primary caregivers vs. intervention materials alone, 2) involve each community in detailed assessments of the macro-level community environmental supports and barriers to families for achieving healthy diets and adequate levels of physical activity, and 3) incorporate participatory research throughout all stages of the project to develop additional data-driven, culturally acceptable community based interventions to support healthy behavior changes in families and increase community research capacity.

Aim 1, Healthy Children Strong Families (HCSF), is a 2 year randomized controlled trial composed of one year of targeted home visits during which trained AI mentors will work with 2-5 year old AI children and their primary caregivers to promote skill-based behavior change. During year 2, intervention families will attend monthly group meetings with activities to sustain changes made in year 1. Control families will receive intervention materials and newsletters only. 60 AI families will comprise each of the two arms of the study. Primary outcomes are decreased caregiver body mass index, and decreased child waist circumference. Secondary outcomes include: increased fruit/vegetable consumption, decreased TV viewing, increased physical activity, decreased soda/sweetened drink consumption; improved caregiver biochemical indices, and increased caregiver self-efficacy to adopt healthy behaviors.

Aim 2, Supportive Communities, utilizes community advisory boards to design and prioritize community assessments of food, recreation, economic, legal, and other systems in their community, utilizing using focus groups, surveys, GIS mapping and direct observation. Outcomes include: committed community advisory boards, community assessment reports and intervention projects.

Aim 3, Participatory Process, assesses the participatory research process to advance toward increasing levels of community research involvement and capacity. Training and resources in obesity prevention will be adapted into a number of tribal settings and programs to enhance sustainability. This project will move this academic and tribal partnership along the spectrum of community-based participatory research to the next level of collaboration, intervention and assessment. Ultimately, this multi-level project should reduce morbidity and mortality from obesity and its sequelae in a population of high-risk American Indian children. It will also lay the foundation for future collaborative research efforts.

Funding Sources

NIH: 1 U01 HL087381-01
OAC/MERC- University of Wisconsin Foundation


Adams, AK. Understanding community and family barriers and supports to physical activity in American Indian children. J Pub Health Manag Pract 16(5): 401-403, 2010 Sep-Oct.

LaRowe TL, Adams AK , Jobe J, Cronin KA, Vannatter SM, Prince, RJ Dietary Intakes and Physical Activity among Preschool Aged Children living in Rural American Indian Communities Prior to a Family-based Healthy Lifestyle Intervention. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2010; 110:1049-1057

Adams, AK and Prince, RJ. Correlates of physical activity in young American Indian Children: lessons learned from the Wisconsin Nutrition and Growth Study. J Pub Health Manag Pract 16(5): 394-400, 2010 Sep-Oct.

LaRowe, TL, Adams, AK, Wubben, DP, Cronin, KA, and Vannatter, SM. Development of a Culturally Appropriate Home-Based Nutrition and Physical Activity Curriculum for Wisconsin American Indian Families. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Preventing Chronic Disease, 2007; 4(4):1-8.

Adams. AK and Miller-Korth, N. Can Policy Changes Facilitate Authentic Academic and Community Health Research Partnerships? Harvard Health Policy Review. Vol 8(1); 126-135, 2007.

Helpful Links

Physical Activity Websites
Information about physical activity, why it is important, how habits are formed
Helpful physical activity tips and healthy eating tips
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Physical activity information
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Heart healthy information for kids under “Children’s Health” category
“Healthy Lifestyle” category provides information for all ages
Indoor and outdoor physical activity information…
Physical activity guides for children (PDFs)
Choose information “for parents”
Helpful physical activity and motivation information for parents
Nutrition and physical activity information for parents
Recipe information
Growth and development
Many links to helpful physical activity websites and programs
Many links to helpful nutrition and physical activity websites and programs…
Physical activity tips for all ages

Helpful Healthy Eating Websites
Find resources on children and nutrition.
Information on different food groups and physical activity
My pyramid for kids
Tips and resources
Handout with tips for eating more fruits and vegetables
Tips for encouraging children to eat more fruits and vegetables
On the side tab click on the “Consumer News” category for helpful information about children and healthy eating
Web MD article on including more fruits and vegetables in your diet.
Tips, Recipes, Information