Determining the Health Impacts of ʻĀina-Based Programs

Social networks influence individuals’ choices and behaviors that either lead to unhealthy or healthy lifestyles. These networks have an effect on a wide range of obesity-related cardiometabolic health conditions, including Type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM), cardiovascular disease (CVD), and metabolic syndrome, which are more prevalent among communities comprised of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders (NHPI). However, whether and how social networks in NHPI communities influence health has never before been explored. In partnership with MAʻO Organic Farms in Wai‘anae, we examine the extent to which behavior/lifestyle modifications mediated through their educational ‘āina-based program impacts the health of Hawaiian youth and that of their social network. Results help MA‘O promote social nurturance and positive environments to reduce obesity risk whilst encouraging education. This study has significant implications for a wide range of programs in our lāhui that target education, economic development, environmental protection, and cultural restoration, all of which indirectly impacts on health but are not necessarily designed to address it and enables indigenous-based models to be practiced, optimized, and sustained to restore equity.