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Study measures impact of informational material at NAP office. (August 29, 2017)

As part of ongoing efforts to improve children’s health and nutrition in the CNMI, four Northern Marianas College students were selected to be a part of a summer fellowship program that sought to better understand the various aspects of health and nutrition in the CNMI and to find better ways to promote healthy lifestyles.

The Child Health Assessment in the Pacific Undergraduate Summer Fellowship Program, which is funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, provides a summer training and research opportunity for undergraduate students—known as fellows—working toward degrees in nutrition, nursing, early childhood education, public health and other related degrees.

NMC graduate and CHAP fellow Maria Dizon’s project focused on evaluating the influence of an informational display table and printed materials on the CNMI Nutrition Assistance Program clients’ intentions to select, purchase, prepare and consume healthier foods.

Dizon’s research involved evaluating an Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program informational display table at the NAP issuance office, which displayed the amount of fat and sugar in popular canned foods and sugar sweetened beverages along with informational tip sheets, brochures and recipe cards. During food stamp issuance days at NAP, Dizon measured participants’ observation of the display table using an environmental scan form and conducted interviews using an exit survey questionnaire to determine participants’ intentions to purchase, prepare and consume healthier foods.

Data gathered were analyzed using Excel and reported in frequency and percentages. “Based on research findings, the EFNEP display table and printed materials made a difference, as NAP participants reported that they were more likely to purchase fruit, vegetables, and consume healthier foods,” said Dizon.

Other CHAP fellows are NMC students Jesse Deleon Guerrero, Andrea Loste, and Allysha Lloren. Their research will also be highlighted throughout the week.

The objectives of the CHAP Summer Fellowship Program, one of the training components of the Children’s Healthy Living Program, are threefold: building Pacific regional capacity in early childhood nutrition and health assessment; developing and sustaining the Pacific network of individuals working to monitor and prevent early childhood obesity and health disparities; and working to develop training in early childhood nutrition and health assessment.

“We are proud of the research that the CHAP fellows have completed with the guidance from their mentors,” said NMC president Dr. Carmen Fernandez.

According to CNMI CHAP lead Patricia Coleman, “Becoming a CHAP fellow is a competitive process. This is CHAP’s second year, and once again, NMC had many excellent applicants for the fellowship.”

Students from Chaminade University, University of Hawaii at Manoa, and the University of Guam also participated in the CHAP program.

Previous fellows include Robert Suzuki Jr., and Rachel Reyes.

Suzuki, Jr., is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree at UH Manoa. Reyes just graduated from NMC in spring 2017 with her bachelor’s degree in Education.

The fellows are mentored by Jessica Delos Reyes (Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. renal dietitian) and NMC Cooperative, Research, Extension, and Education Service team members Rose Castro, Tayna Belyeu-Camacho, and Patricia Coleman.

All CHAP summer fellows receive $2100 stipend, travel to Hawaii for a seven-day training opportunity at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, a scholarship to cover tuition and fees for four credits of coursework through the University of Hawa‘i Outreach College, and resources and support to complete a mentored summer field experience related to diet or anthropometry field assessment techniques. The CNMI CHAP Program is housed at Northern Marianas College Cooperative, Research, Extension, and Education Service. (NMC)

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