BACKGROUND: The prevalence of overweight children has reached epidemic proportions, and affects Latinos youth more than other subgroups in the United States. Given the prevalence of obesity and its economic consequences, community health initiatives have shifted toward primary prevention at younger ages. METHODS: Data representing all levels of the ecological systems theory were collected using diverse methods. Participants were children enrolled in K-2nd grade and their parents. RESULTS: Overweight children were less active compared to normal weight children. The parents of overweight children provided less instrumental support to engage in activity and set fewer limits on their child's activities. Similarly, parents of overweight children were less likely to control, but more likely to set limits on their child's diet compared to parents of normal weight children. Parents who rated their health more positively and were less acculturated were more likely to have children who were overweight. School and community level variables were not significantly correlated with children's weight. Adjusting for the aforementioned variables, parents' weight status was positively associated with children's weight. CONCLUSIONS: Social and structural environments in which Hispanic children are reared may play an important role in determining their risk for obesity and related behaviors. Parents' weight was among the strongest correlate of child weight; however, the extent to which this influence functions primarily through biological or social/structural influences is not entirely clear. The role of school and community factors on child's health practices and body mass index needs to be further examined.
- Chronic diseases
- Community health
- Physical fitness
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health