Health and Fitness

Hispanic households making an attempt to get on wholesome monitor with UM app


Gregoria Estrada has begun to train extra after utilizing the Healthy Juntos (Healthy Together) app developed on the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. The app goals to show Hispanic households about maintaining a healthy diet and exercising to fight weight problems, which is linked to most cancers.

When her daughter’s pediatrician really useful she check out a smartphone app, Gregoria Estrada wasn’t satisfied she wanted any well being recommendation.

The Little Havana mom thought she had her household’s care nicely underneath management. She agreed to make use of it, nonetheless, as a result of a number of of her acquaintances had been identified with critical illnesses, together with most cancers, and he or she needed to ensure she was doing every thing doable to maintain illness at bay.

“I was surprised by how much I learned,” mentioned Estrada. “Before, I didn’t think of reading food labels or if I was getting enough exercise. I didn’t even realize I probably wasn’t drinking enough water.”

Estrada, 57, and her daughter Carol Aplicano, 16, used the Healthy Juntos (Healthy Together) app, which seeks to enhance life-style behaviors and stop weight problems amongst Hispanic adolescents and their mother and father.

“It was very helpful in concentrating on healthy habits,” agreed Carol, a tenth grader. “It worked because I’ve been better about food portions and trying to get more exercise.”

Healthy Juntos was the brainchild of Sara Mijares St. George, assistant professor within the Department of Public Health Sciences on the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. With funding from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, she led a workforce that labored with UM tech consultants and a Chicago-based software program firm.

Link between weight problems, most cancers

St. George, daughter of Cuban immigrants, mentioned she was impressed to create the app “to encourage a healthy lifestyle by leveraging the close family ties in Hispanic families.” Targeting weight problems is crucial on this inhabitants, as U.S. Hispanics have the second-highest weight problems fee after African-Americans. (In 2020, nearly 36% of Hispanics have been thought of overweight.)

“Obesity prevention is cancer prevention,” she defined, noting that being obese or overweight is linked to a better danger of getting most cancers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that danger is highest with 13 cancers, together with breast, colon and rectum, pancreas, higher abdomen, kidney and liver. In reality, weight problems is the second-leading modifiable danger issue for most cancers, after smoking.

Sara St. George
Sara Mijares St. George, assistant professor within the Department of Public Health Sciences on the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, developed the “Healthy Juntos” app and the “Con Cariño, Abuelita” app, geared toward Hispanic grandmothers who’re most cancers survivors and their daughters. BiomeUMiami

As expertise, within the type of computer systems, tablets and smartphones, turns into an rising a part of our lives, healthcare suppliers have “a growing interest in capitalizing on advances in information technology to provide quality and patient-centered care to cancer patients and survivors outside a hospital or clinic setting,” mentioned Frank Penedo, director of Cancer Survivorship and Supportive Care at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center on the Miller School.

About 70% of most cancers sufferers surf the net looking for medical info and 30% search help applications to take care of the challenges of a analysis and remedy, he added. Research, together with initiatives at Sylvester, additionally means that “eHealth applications can be effectively implemented to monitor and manage symptoms and deliver psychosocial and supportive care to cancer patients and survivors.”

The COVID-19 pandemic “significantly accelerated” the usage of well being tech for supply of medical care, Penedo added.

Dr. Frank Penedo
Frank Penedo, director of Cancer Survivorship and Supportive Care at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center on the Miller School of Medicine on the University of Miami. Jorge R. Perez;Photographer;Editor Jorge R. Perez, University of Miami School of Medicine

The Healthy Juntos app remains to be being examined amongst households, who’re collaborating in a randomized trial. The mother-daughter duos chosen to make use of the app are given Fitbit units to allow them to file their steps, their members of the family’ steps, and ship one another encouraging messages. The app additionally has animated movies and recipes.

Healthy Juntos Sample Pages
The login web page to the Healthy Juntos app.

App for abuelita most cancers survivors

The early success of Healthy Juntos prompted St. George to start engaged on one other app that “fosters a legacy of health for the entire family.” This time she’s targeted on the Hispanic survivors of breast, endometrial or ovarian cancers.

The app, “Con Cariño, Abuelita” (With Love, Grandma), not solely targets grandmothers (principally of their 50s and 60s) but in addition the daughters of those survivors. It’s funded by a V Foundation for Cancer Research grant. Participants have been sufferers of Sylvester oncologists.

“We asked many abuelitas about the impact their cancer diagnoses had on their families,” St. George mentioned. “More often than not, they talked about the family coming together and rallying around them. It actually had a unifying effect. We knew we had to harness that.”

St. George and her multicultural workforce have been assembly with the identical well being tech startup that helped her develop Healthy Juntos.

The thought is to make use of, however adapt, lots of the options which are fashionable with Healthy Juntos customers. These embrace intervention targets that concentrate on holding a wholesome weight, collaborating in common bodily exercise and consuming a nutritious diet excessive in greens, fruits, and entire grains. It even encompasses a “time capsule” that data the abuelita’s story about overcoming obstacles in addition to the significance of sustaining a wholesome life-style.

As survivors, the grandmothers are inspired “to leave behind a record that motivates their family to live a healthy lifestyle,” St. George added.

Though the app is in its very early levels — it’s nonetheless within the pilot section after which must be formally examined for efficacy in a large-scale randomized managed trial — St. George sees this app, in addition to Healthy Juntos, as probably highly effective instruments within the journey to wiser life-style selections. Studies have confirmed that goal-setting and self-monitoring are important mechanisms that result in behavioral modifications.

“We hope that adopting [a healthy lifestyle] becomes who you are and not just what you do,” she added. “We want it to be something that is important not only to a survivor but also to her family.”

More info

If you wish to study extra about methods to take part in St. George’s well being app research, attain out to: Dr. Vanina Pavia, 786-643-4300. Or you possibly can electronic mail:;

This story was initially printed May 13, 2022 6:00 AM.

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