Obesity, Parent Perceptions, Child Feeding, and Food Security in First Generation Hispanic Families
Purpose: This study aimed to determine the relationships between parent and child weight status, parental perceptions of weight, child feeding, food insecurity, and acculturation in Hispanic preschoolers and their parents in a southern California school district. Methods: Eighty-five parent-child dyads participated. Height and weight, parental weight perceptions, child feeding, acculturation, and food insecurity data were obtained. Results: Eighty-five percent of parents were born in Mexico, although 94% of their children were born in the US. Eighty percent of parents and 43% of the children were overweight or obese. None of the constructs measured predicted child BMI, although parents significantly underestimated their children's body size. Parents' BMI correlated positively with restrictive child feeding practices, and obese parents pressured their children to eat more than did non-obese parents. Conclusions: Obesity exists disproportionately in Hispanics compared to other ethnic populations. While factors predicting children's weight status are difficult to identify, parents' weight, perceptions of child's weight, adherence to the Hispanic culture, and food insecurity do appear to impact parental concerns and parenting behaviors, particularly restrictive and pressuring-to-eat behaviors. Parental underestimation of their children's weight may hinder behavior change if concerns about unhealthy weight are inaccurate. Interventions should consider parental weight, weight perceptions, and feeding practices.