Kevin Nadal, Ph.D.
Professor. Psychologist. Personality.
Wedding Ministry

Physical Activity and Pilipino American Youth Assessment (PAPAYA)

Principal Investigator: Kevin Nadal, PhD- John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Project Coordinator: Arnell Hinkle, RD, MPH- CANFIT

Funder: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation- Active Living Research New Connections

Background: Filipino Americans are the second largest Asian American/ Pacific Islander population in the United States and they are projected to become the largest Asian American population by 2010 (Nadal, 2009). The limited research on Filipino Americans has found several health and mental health disparities that greatly impact the community (see Nadal, 2009 for a review). Filipino Americans have been found to have a higher prevalence of hypertension and cardiovascular disease than other Asian American groups, with a prevalence that is comparable to African Americans (Klatsky, Tekawa, & Armstrong, 1996; Ryan et al., 2000; Stavig, Igra, & Leonard, 1988). Among Asian Americans, Filipinos have the highest proportion (46%) of overweight or obese adults, 30% of Filipino American youth were listed as overweight, and Filipino Americans have higher rates of diabetes than the general population, despite having a generally younger population (California Asian Pacific Islander Joint Legislative Caucus [CAPIJLC], 2009). Filipino Americans also tend to have higher prevalence of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use than other Asian American groups (CAPIJLC, 2009; Nadal, 2000). Some studies have indicated that Filipino Americans have higher prevalence of depression than the general American population (Tompar-Tiu & Sustento-Seneriches, 1995), and that rates of suicide ideation is double in Filipino American youth than the general American population (Wolf, 1997).  


Physical activity has been shown to ameliorate many of these health conditions (CDC, 1999).   A community study found that although physical activity and nutrition were becoming increasingly relevant among Filipino American youth, parents were more inclined to support their children’s involvement in after school tutoring programs rather than athletics and physical activity.  However, regular physical activity is still not viewed as a valued cultural norm within the Filipino American community (CANFIT, 2003).  


Specific Aims: The proposed study will examine Filipino American youth and the cultural, socio-economical and mental health experiences that influence physical activity. This project will assess the physical activity practices and environments of Filipino American youth, by examining: (a) youth knowledge of and attitudes about physical activity, (b) physical activity habits, (c) access to safe play spaces for physical activity, (d) built environment and social environmental factors in each study area (e) body image and self-esteem, (f) peer and family influence, (g) screen time influence (e.g., video games, computer, text messaging), (h) knowledge of and attitudes about mental health treatment, and (i) experiences with race, ethnicity, and acculturation. 


PAPAYA Staff Members w/ Youth and Kalusugan Coailtion

Participating Organizations
CANFIT, Inc. (Communities, Activity, Nutrition, Fitness)- Berkeley, CA
Filipino American Human Services, Inc.- Jamaica, NY
Kalusugan Community Services- San Diego, CA
Search to Involve Pilipino Americans- Los Angeles, CA
Pin@y Educational Partnerships (PEP)- San Francisco, CA

For more information, contact Dr. Kevin Nadal <>.