Submitted to: Obesity Research
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/2005
Publication Date: 9/1/2005
Citation: Ortega, A., Johnston, C., Tyler, C., Carvalho, S. 2005. Acculturation and weight status in Mexican American children [abstract]. Obesity Research. 13:A131. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Rates of obesity in the U.S. have shown a significant steady increase over the past two decades, especially among Mexican American adults and children. Adults tend to become heavier with increased length of residence in the U.S.; however, little is known about the influence of acculturation on child weight. The goal of this study was to examine differences in acculturation across weight status in middle school Mexican American children. It was hypothesized that overweight children, like overweight adults, would be significantly more acculturated. Height, weight, and child acculturation were collected for 33 normal (body mass index (BMI) < 85th %tile) and 41 overweight (BMI >= 95th %tile) children aged 11 to 14 years. Acculturation was assessed using a 9-item questionnaire (subscales: years in the U.S., preferred language, and preferred country of leisure/residence) designed for this study. Though normal and overweight groups were significantly different in terms of acculturation, these differences were not in the expected direction. Overweight children were less acculturated (t (1,72) = -2.06, p < .05) than normal weight children. Closer examination of the individual subscales revealed that, compared to normal weight children, overweight children were significantly more likely to report families having lived fewer years in the U.S.(t(1,71) = -2.76, p < .01) which is opposite of the trend observed in the adult Mexican American population. The groups did not significantly differ on the other subscales (preferred language, t (1,72) = -.86, ns; preferred country of leisure/residence, t(1,72) = -1.58, ns). These results suggest that acculturation in children may not mirror that of adults in regards to weight.