College Mentors: A View From the Inside of an Intervention to Promote Health Behaviors and Prevent Obesity Among Low-Income, Urban, African American Adolescents

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Abstract

This article examined the views of college mentors who administered Challenge!—a home- and community-based health promotion/overweight prevention intervention that effectively reduced the progression to overweight among African American adolescents. In-depth qualitative interviews among 17 mentors (81%) conducted 1 year following the intervention yielded four primary findings: (a) the importance of a strong mentor–mentee relationship often extending beyond the issues of diet and physical activity, (b) concern at the adversities the adolescents faced (e.g., poverty and household instability); (c) the personal impact of the mentoring process on the mentors’ own dietary and physical activity behavior and career choices; and (d) recommendations regarding subsequent mentoring programs. In summary, college students are a valuable resource as mentors for low-income, African American adolescents and provide insights into the success of health promotion/overweight prevention interventions.

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