Office of External Communications

Houston, TX 77204-5017 Fax: 713.743.8199

June 26, 2007

Contact: Marisa Ramirez
713.743.8152 (office)
713.204.9798 (cell)

HIP Project Focuses on Health Behaviors of Hispanic Women

Hispanic women in Houston can pursue better living through increased exercise and better nutrition. It’s part of a University of Houston study called Health Is Power (HIP).

“We’re looking for Hispanic women who are ready to work together to improve their health,” Rebecca Lee, assistant professor in the UH Department of Health and Human Performance and lead investigator in the HIP project, said. “We know that good health is one of the greatest benefits anyone can have, but getting there is always the challenge. Summer is a great time to refresh our healthy goals and HIP can help.”

The HIP project is now recruiting Hispanic women in Houston between the ages of 25 and 60 years old who would like to improve their health by exercising more or eating more fruits and vegetables. Women must be able to perform physical activity, like walking, or change their diet without medical supervision. Eligible women will receive free health assessments (weight, height, body fat, blood pressure and resting heart rate), a modest stipend and attendance incentives. Participants will be randomly assigned to either physical activity or nutrition classes and must agree to adopt goals set by their group, such as participating in a walking program or eating more fruits and vegetables.

Those interested in participating in the HIP study should contact Ashley Medina at 713-743-1183 or

The HIP project is a five-year study funded by a $3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health. The project focuses on Hispanic and African American women, because they are vulnerable to obesity and related illnesses, Lee said, and because there is little research on obesity issues among Hispanic women.

The HIP project began in the summer of 2006 and has already enrolled three waves of women in Houston. Women will complete three health assessments to track their progress: at the beginning of the study, at the six month mark and at the one year mark. In all, 150 women will participate in the HIP project in Houston.

“Group strategies, or ‘social cohesion groups,’ have been successful in helping people meet individual goals, but this project is different because it focuses on a group of women with a shared goal,” Lee said. “These groups usually have stronger outcomes and better maintenance than groups that focus on individual goals because participants are going through the program together and have a shared goal.”

Lee said the program has been rated highly by participants. More than 90 percent of the women who have completed the program so far agreed that HIP motivated them to adopt a healthy lifestyle. The same women said they also would recommend HIP to a friend.

Lee has conducted extensive research on the subject of obesity, in particular the neighborhood factors that may lead to obesity, such as availability and quality of fresh produce, and the quality and quantity of physical activity resources available in neighborhoods. To read more about her research, please visit:

For more information on the UH Department of Health and Human Performance, please visit
For more information on Lee’s research, please visit

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