Elena Carrillo Alvarez

The GRoW Healthier program: a social capital based transferable device to promote healthy lifestyles among adolescents from vulnerable contexts

A greater commitment to adolescents’ health has been increasingly required in several scientific and institutional forums, especially in the moment of the largest cohort of adolescents that the world has ever seen: nearly two billion, almost 16% of the global population. In Spain, like most developed and developing countries, risk behaviors such as tobacco and alcohol use, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, or risky sexual behaviors constitute the main hazard to adolescent health; and they have been shown to be subject to great health inequalities. Social capital represents one of the non-material aspects that can condition the existence and access to health assets through the different disposition of bonds, links, networks -and the resources within- among people and groups of people, and it has been purported to be able to mitigate or amplify the impact of other social determinants of health, such as education or income level. One of the mechanisms that explain this leveraging effect is the exert of informal control and the normalization of health-related behaviors in tight-knit collectives.
In this presentation, I discuss the lessons learned in the process of design, development and pilot implementation of the GRoW Healthier program, a transferable intervention device to promote healthy lifestyles in adolescents based on the premises of social capital theory and participative research action. By delving into the full display of the program in terms of objectives, content, methodologies and activities developed, the presentation will also discuss the implications for future implementations in different sociocultural contexts.



Professor of Sociology and Community Nutrition at Blanquerna School of Health Sciences, Universitat Ramon Llull
PI of the GRoW Research Group – Global Research Group on Wellbeing
Member of EFAD’s ESDN group on Public Health




Prof. Dr. Elena Carrillo is a Dietitian-Nutritionist. She is PhD in Education and has performed research around a variety of topics mainly related to how socio-educational features can leverage health and educational inequalities. More specifically, she develops her research around healthy eating and youth obesity prevention using an ecological approach, and around educational governance networks, that connect social, health and educational organizations and empower communities to succeed in front of today’s comprehensive challenges. She has been domain coordinator for the development of reference budgets for the food basket in a EU funded project involving institutions from the 28 members state countries. She is an associate professor at the FCS Blanquerna, teaching Sociology and Community Nutrition. She has obtained several endowments and recognition to her work, including grants from the Spanish Government, awards to several presentations made in international conferences, as well as to the development of teaching material to promote healthy eating habits in teenagers. She is currently the Principal Investigator of the Global Research on Wellbeing research group. She is a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard School of Public Health. She is Team Leader of the Future Leader Volunteer Program at the Global Community Health Foundation.