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Research Project: Childhood Obesity Prevention

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Obesity risk in children: The role of acculturation in the feeding practices and styles of low-income Hispanic families

Author
item Power, Tom - Washington State University
item O'connor, Teresia - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item Fisher, Jennifer - Temple University
item Hughes, Sheryl - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)

Submitted to: Childhood Obesity
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/20/2015
Publication Date: 12/1/2015
Citation: Power, T.G., O'Connor, T.M., Fisher, J.O., Hughes, S.O. 2015. Obesity risk in children: The role of acculturation in the feeding practices and styles of low-income Hispanic families. Childhood Obesity. 11(6):715-721.

Interpretive Summary: Problematic feeding patterns with young children have been linked to childhood obesity among low-income families. Because acculturation into the U.S. culture impacts adult obesity, determining if acculturation impacts how parents feed their children could provide clues into the development of obesity in low-income families. Hispanic mothers completed questionnaires on feeding and acculturation. Those mothers born outside of the U.S. reported using highly controlling feeding practices more often than mothers born in the U.S. (pressuring their child to consume more food, using food as a reward, and controlling child food intake by limiting less healthy foods). Those mothers born in the U.S. were more indulgent with their children during feeding. Identifying patterns such as indulgence during feeding can provide important information for researchers who are interested in developing prevention and intervention programs designed to reduce childhood obesity in low-income families.

Technical Abstract: Parent feeding has been associated with child overweight/obesity in low-income families. Because acculturation to the United States has been associated with increased adult obesity, our study aim was to determine whether acculturation was associated with feeding in these populations. Low-income Hispanic mothers of preschoolers were recruited to participate in a longitudinal study examining child eating behaviors. At baseline, mothers completed questionnaires on feeding styles, feeding practices, and acculturation. Regression analyses compared feeding styles and food parenting practices of first-generation, immigrant mothers born outside the United States (n=138) and mothers born in the United States (n=31). The correlates of acculturation with these same constructs were also examined. Immigrant mothers reported using highly directive food parenting practices more often than mothers born in the United States, including pressuring their child to consume more food, using food as a reward, and controlling child food intake by limiting less-healthy foods. First-generation mothers were more likely to show authoritarian, and less likely to show indulgent, feeding styles. Greater maternal acculturation was associated with less restriction of food for weight reasons. Although first-generation, immigrant mothers reported using highly controlling food parenting practices with their children, those born in the United States were more indulgent with their children in the feeding context. Mechanisms that promote greater indulgence in more-acculturated mothers need to be identified.