An Ecological Approach to Obesity in Mexican American Children

Elizabeth Reifsnider, Mihyun Jeong, Priyanka Chatterjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Introduction: The objective of this study was to explore the risk factors that contribute to obesity in Mexican American children compared with Mexican American normal weight children. No hypotheses were tested in the study. When risk factors are known, nurses can use evidence to reduce risky behavior. Method: A cross-sectional descriptive design was used, comparing two groups of children to discern the risk factors for obesity. The setting is a county in South Texas along the border with Mexico. The sample consisted of 55 Mexican American dyads (mother-child). The following measures, based on the Ecological Model of Growth, were used to collect data: anthropometrics, dietary data of children, home environment, perceived stress of mother, and maternal acculturation. Independent sample t tests, chi-square tests, Fisher exact tests, and a hierarchical logistic regression analysis were used to analyze the data. Results: The findings show children's age and maternal body mass index (BMI) are positively correlated with childhood obesity, as measured by BMI percentile by age/sex. There were significant differences in the host and agent factors of prolonged bottle feeding, amount of outdoor play, and fruit drinks between normal weight and obese children. Discussion: Engagement and involvement of other family members in outdoor activities, nutrition/feeding, and child care may mitigate the negative effects of host and agent factors on child body size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-221
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pediatric Health Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • Childhood obesity
  • Hispanic children
  • ecological model
  • maternal employment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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