Intervention

Mount Sinai Heart’s FAMILIA Project is a multi-faceted program designed to promote cardiovascular health in the Harlem and Bronx communities of New York City. Taking a family-centered approach, we are working to develop a culture of health in these high-risk populations.

Child Interventions

Our four-month preschool intervention, geared to three- to five-year-olds, is a multiplatform program designed to engage and improve the health and lifestyle habits of young children and their families.

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai gratefully acknowledge Sesame Workshop for  making available the Sesame Street characters and content from its Healthy Habits for Life programs for use in educating children and their families in connection with this project.

The program is partly based on and adapted from educational initiatives by Sesame Workshop and the Foundation for Science Health, and Education. We use Healthy Habits for Life Child Care Resource Guide, Monstruos Supersanos TV segments, (the Spanish version of Sesame Street), and Little Children, Big Challenges Family Guide as resources to support and engage young children and their families and provide training and technical assistance. The program addresses these topics: 

  • Maintaining a healthy diet within a limited budget
  • Performing regular physical activity
  • Understanding how the body works
  • Managing emotions to avoid poor nutritional decisions

We are also assessing the impact of our program on children’s knowledge, attitudes, habits, physical activity, and food through simple questionnaires (to determine the child’s knowledge, habits, and attitudes about food and physical activity) and through physical measurements (height and weight).

Adult Interventions

The Adult Intervention Program focuses on the parents and caregivers of the children involved in our child intervention program. Led by Zahi A. Fayad, PhD, Professor of Radiology and Medicine (Cardiology) and Director of the Translational and Molecular Imaging Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the adult intervention program is focused on the findings of imaging technology. Our goal is health promotion for the parents and caregivers of the children being studied who may be at a higher risk for cardiovascular diseases or have barriers to maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Researchers hope to show that low-cost and family-based lifestyle changes may improve diet and increase physical activity. Adult participants in the FAMILIA Project will either join peer group intervention, lifestyle counseling intervention, or be enrolled in a control group.

We will assess the impact of these interventions through use of simple questionnaires that will address physical activity level, food intake, smoking habits, and quality of life. We also measure height; weight; blood pressure; blood samples; and cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose levels.

Imaging

Our researchers use minimally invasive ultrasound technology to examine the arteries of the adult parents/caregivers participating in the study. This imaging gives us vital information about the health of the arteries and the family member’s potential risk of developing coronary arte ry disease or having a heart attack or stroke.

Genomics

As part of FAMILIA’s Adult Intervention Program, a team, led by Eric Schadt, PhD, Director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology, will examine the cross-generation genetic and genomic information of the children and their parents and caregivers.

The team looks at how genes work together to increase your risk for cardiac diseases and how those genes may affect your lifestyle and behavior. We are also searching for clues about potential preventive strategies and treatments. By examining the crossroads of genetics and lifestyle habits, we hope to discover what works for people trying to change their daily habits.

The FAMILIA Project has the support of several cardiovascular prevention fellows led by Roger Hajjar, MD, Director of the Cardiovascular Research Center at Mount Sinai Heart.

Group and Personal Interventions

Parents and caregivers who will be in the peer group intervention program participate in monthly peer group healthy lifestyle sessions led by trained parents for up to a year. They discuss topics including:

  • Heart health
  • Eating for health
  • Weight management
  • Physical activity
  • Habits and behavior
  • Stress management

Parents and caregivers can participate in 8 to 12 individual sessions with a personal lifestyle coach. The coaches gear each session to participant needs, focusing on healthy lifestyle topics including:

  • Heart health
  • Eating for health
  • Weight management
  • Physical activity
  • Habits and behavior
  • Stress management

Participants also receive an activity tracker to help motivate and monitor their progress.