Karina Ledezma

Major and Classification

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Faculty Mentor

  • Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati, Ph.D.


  • Keck School of Medicine

McNair Project

Studies show that the level of physical activity of Latinas is lower than their white counterparts, consequently, predisposing them to obesity and diabetes. Concerned with the physical inactivity in Latinas, this study sought to identify and analyze the barriers and facilitators influencing adult Latinas from engaging in physical activity, and decreasing their risks of obesity and diabetes. The study focused on adult women who were currently pregnant, pregnant within the past year, or planning to become pregnant in the near future. The study found several factors affecting Latinas currently living in low-income, urban communities around Los Angeles. Findings showed that emotional-social support was a significant indicator of physical activity. Women reported that encouragement and companionship from friends and relatives motivated them to exercise more. Results also indicated that most Latinas do not engage in enough recreational physical activity during their leisure time. Respondents reported engaging in more household-related activities in comparison to leisure time physical activity. Acculturation was also statistically significant to higher levels of aerobic exercise. Women who were active were highly integrated and assimilated into the U.S culture. The majority indicated that their motivation to exercise is to lose weight and stay healthy, however, obesity and diabetes were not recognized as chief contributors to a sedentary lifestyle. Findings of this study suggest that interventions should be implemented that are tailored to increasing the level of physical activity in adult Latinas. The findings also suggest that increasing the knowledge on how an inactive lifestyle without periodic exercise and unhealthy eating habits can result in obesity and diabetes, especially during their youthful years and in pregnancy. Equally important, interventions should focus on ways to increase the emotional social support that facilitates encouragement and companionship among Latinas, which also were found as crtical factors in promoting a healthy lifestyle that involves adequate excercise and good eating habits.