Promoting digital technologies for disease prevention among Latinos

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Half of Americans live with at least one chronic disease, such as diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease. Chronic diseases take an economic toll and account for a large proportion of health care costs.  A moderate amount of weight loss and an increase in physical activity can prevent or reduce the burden of chronic disease.  Therefore, we need to find a low-cost platform that is effective for chronic illness prevention. The use of digital technology, such as smartphones and mobile apps, has great potential to increase both adaptation and impact while decreasing cost.

As the U.S. population is becoming more diverse, a “one size fits all” prevention program may not work for everyone. For example, Latinos are expected to make up 24% of the total U.S. population by 2065, up from 3.5% in 1960. Smartphone ownership among Latino Americans is extremely high when compared with other races/ethnicities in the United States. The Spanish-speaking population in the U.S. makes up the largest percentage of smartphone owners, who use their smartphones as their primary source of Internet and communication. Despite the rise in smartphone ownership and usage among Latino Americans, a limited number of studies have looked at the use of smartphone applications within the context of weight loss via reducing caloric intake and increasing physical activity among overweight Latino Americans at risk for type 2 diabetes.

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