Gabriela Chavira, Subproject PI, Psychology
The program of research I have developed focuses on factors contributing to the academic success and psychological well-being of immigrant, primarily Latino youth living in the United States.
Janet Oh, Subproject PI, Psychology
The immigrant paradox hypothesis states that first-generation immigrants have better outcomes than their U.S.-born counterparts, especially with regard to the health and academic outcomes of immigrant-background children and adolescents. In this project, I propose to investigate how heritage language (HL) development is associated with immigrant-background adolescents' adjustment. Specifically, I plan to examine how Spanish language proficiency and patterns of language use are associated with first- and second-generation Latino/a adolescents' relationships with their parents, identification with their heritage culture, academic achievement, and overall mental health. Prior research indicates that adolescents who mutually speak the HL with their parents experience a higher quality relationship than those who experience a mismatch in languages and that adolescents who have higher levels HL proficiency identify more strongly with their heritage culture. The proposed study will contribute to the existing literature in the following ways: (1) By examining the contribution of HL loss to the "immigrant paradox", (2) By distinguishing between HL proficiency and language use, (3) By extending the literature to examine the role of HL development on academic achievement and overall mental health, (4) By collecting data from a subsample of parents of adolescents in the study, and (5) By using a mixed methods approach.
Erica Wohldmann, Subproject PI, Psychology
Nearly 70% of Latino American adults have been categorized as either overweight or obese, and being overweight or obese, as measured by the Body Mass Index (BMI), is correlated with numerous negative health effects (e.g., cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, Type-II diabetes, high cholesterol). In 2003, the financial cost of obesity to U.S. taxpayers was $75 billion, and more than $7.7 billion was spent fighting obesity just in California. Losing weight can decrease health care costs by reducing some of the negative effects on health, and one way to reduce weight is to decrease caloric consumption for individuals who are overconsuming. Therefore, the purpose of this research is to examine ways to reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Latinos by examining ways to present information such that it will increase healthy eating behaviors. Experiments will test the influence of culturally relevant materials, a culturally relevant diet analysis plan, and similar educational programs on subsequent eating behaviors. The results can be used by government and community organizations that provide educational materials related to nutrition, policy makers, and, of course, individual consumers.