Project II focuses on obesity among the children of Mexican immigrants ages 5-14. Mexican-origin boys in immigrant families have particularly high obesity rates relative to all other children, including Hispanic boys in native families. The proposed research will examine how immigration to the United States?and family, school, and neighborhood contexts within the United States?independently and jointly influence the risk of obesity among children of Mexican immigrants. The research will emphasize two aspects of children's contexts: the level of economic disadvantage and the degree to which they expose children to the wider American society beyond the Mexican community. These factors represent important dimensions of assimilation (cultural and economic) and are theorized to shape children's environments in complex ways that raise and lower the risk of obesity. An innovative component of the proposed research is its consideration of how the migration process itself affects children's weight. The research will go far beyond prior research on children's weight by comparing children living in Mexico with children of Mexican immigrants living in the United States, and by using propensity scores to compare children of Mexican immigrants with children living in Mexico whose parents have a high propensity to migrate. Another innovation is that the project will assess the role of parental legal status on children's weight using data from the NHIS-OIS. Finally, a third innovation is that the research will unpack the concepts of acculturation and SES into components that are likely to reduce resistance to obesity and components that are likely to increase exposure to the risk of obesity. The research team will examine how these are independently and jointly related to children's weight. For example, we hypothesize that one aspect of low acculturation?being socialized in Mexico?is associated with having heavier children. But we expect another aspect of low acculturation?social isolation from the U.S. mainstream?to have the opposite effect because it reduces exposure to the U.S. obesiogenic environment.

Public Health Relevance

Mexican children of immigrants are at particulariy high risk of ovenweight. This project tests new ideas about the relationships between children of Mexican immigrants'primary environments and weight. The proposed research will thus help identify the intervention points at which interventions may be most productively targetted~at the level of the family, school, neighborhood, or nation.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Program Projects (P01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZHD1-DSR-W)
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Pennsylvania State University
University Park
United States
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Howe Hasanali, Stephanie (2015) Immigrant-Native Disparities in Perceived and Actual Met/Unmet Need for Medical Care. J Immigr Minor Health 17:1337-46
Van Hook, Jennifer; Bean, Frank D; Bachmeier, James D et al. (2014) Recent trends in coverage of the Mexican-born population of the United States: results from applying multiple methods across time. Demography 51:699-726
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