188872 Maternal Perceptions of Overweight in Young Children of Mexican Descent

Monday, October 27, 2008: 4:45 PM

Sylvia Guendelman, PhD, LCSW , School of Public Health, University of Carlifornia Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Lia C. Fernald, PhD, MBA , School of Public Health, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Elena Fuentes-Afflick, MD , Pediatrics, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Lynnette Neufeld, PhD , Nutricion y Epidemiologia, Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica, Cuernavaca, Mexico
Among Mexican Americans, 33% of preschool-aged youngsters and 43% of 6 to 11-year-olds are overweight or at risk for overweight. We conducted focus groups with 86 Mexican mothers of 4 to 6 year-old children from high-migration areas in Mexico and Mexican immigrant communities in California between March 2007 and January 2008 to compare their perceptions of childhood overweight and related risk factors. Compared to mothers in California, mothers in Mexico perceived that their children's bodies were larger and favored a significantly larger ideal body size for children. California mothers reported increased satisfaction with their child's current body size compared to mothers in Mexico. Mothers stated that risk factors associated with children's weight gain when families migrate from Mexico to California included: (1) increased purchasing power, translating to increased consumption of fast foods; (2) increased food availability leading to more food intake; (3) less preparation of home meals thus reducing the quality of food consumed; (4) sedentary lifestyles; (5) family separations that often lead to depression and stresses that trigger overeating, and (6) past experiences with food insecurity causing families to feed their children more food. In Mexico, risk factors such as providing too much junk food and undiluted fruit juices and pushing children to always finish what is on their plates were identified as factors associated with childhood overweight by mothers. Understanding mother's perceptions of childhood overweight and related risk factors on both sides of the border will contribute to more effective interventions for young Mexican children.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe how mothers in Mexican immigrant communities in California and mothers in high-migration areas of Mexico differ in their perceptions of children’s actual and ideal weight 2. List six factors mothers perceive to be associated with overweight among children of Mexican descent living in immigrant communities in California and children living in high-migration areas of Mexico 3. Discuss how maternal perceptions of weight status and factors associated with overweight in Mexican immigrant communities in California and in high-migration areas of Mexico can inform public health interventions

Keywords: Obesity, Immigrants

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Dr. Guendelman is a recognized expert in maternal and child health of immigrant populations. She conceived of this study and carried out the data collection and data anlysis in collaboration with her co-authors.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.