The Healthy Habits Program (HHP)

Citation: Hau, C., Reid, K., Wong, K., Chin, R., Botto, T., Eliasziw, M., Bermudez, O., & Fielding, R. (2016). Collaborative evaluation of the healthy habits program: An effective community intervention to improve mobility and cognition of Chinese older adults living in the U.S. The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, 20(4), 391–397.


There is a growing demand to reduce ethnic health disparities. The Healthy Habits Program (HHP) was implemented to provide a community-based physical activity and education intervention for Chinese older adults living in Boston, Massachusetts. This study evaluated the HHP by assessing outcomes that are critical for maintaining independence of older persons.

Design, setting & participants

Quantitative evaluation was performed on 50 Chinese older adults enrolled in the HHP. The community members were trained in data collection and management.


Cognition (Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE), Trail Making Test & Complex Walking Task), mobility (Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) & maximal gait speed), depressive symptoms (Patient Health Questionnaire-9), perceived disability (World Health Organization Disability Assessment 2.0), nutritional status (Mini Nutrition Assessment®), and strength (grip and leg strength) were assessed at baseline and at 6 months. All tests were translated into Chinese.


Of the 50 participants (mean age 68.4 years; 68% female), 78% achieved the goal of performing exercise ≥3 times/week. After 6 months, clinically meaningful improvements were observed in mobility (mean SPPB score changed from 10.3 to 11.1 points; p=0.01) and cognition (mean MMSE score changed from 26.0 to 27.8 points; p=0.001). There were also statistically significant improvements in executive function, depressive symptoms and perceived disability (p<0.05).


Culturally sensitive community interventions, such as the HHP, are effective for improving mobility and cognition of Chinese older adults. This reveals the potential of promoting successful aging in minority populations through community settings, and should be advocated to reduce ethnic health disparities in the U.S.