Overweight and obesity is prevalent among farmworker children, the vast majority of whom are Latino of Mexican descent. Unfortunately, there has been little systematic research focused on the primary determinants of childhood overweight - physical activity and diet - among farmworker children. The empirical foundation for building culturally and contextually appropriate intervention strategies for preventing or treating childhood overweight and obesity in this health disparate and medically underserved population is therefore compromised. The physical activity and dietary patterns of Latino farmworker children is fundamentally a work-family issue. The nature of farmwork and the farmworker lifestyle poses significant barriers to healthy lifestyle habits among children, and it manifests in elevated obesity in a group of children already at risk for poor health and developmental outcomes. The goal of this research project is to strengthen the empirical foundation upon which to build diet and physical activity intervention programs to address overweight and obesity among young Latino farmworker children. To achieve this goal, we build on a long-standing academic community partnership focused on farmworker family health to: 1) document the dietary and physical activity patterns of young (3 year-old) children of farmworker families;2) determine the child, familial, community, and cultural factors that contribute to obesigenic dietary and physical activity behavior;and 3) identify culturally and contextually appropriate strategies for improving dietary and physical activity patterns of Latino farmworker children. The proposed project's specific aims will be accomplished using an integrated qualitative-quantitative study design that will occur through two distinct project components. The qualitative project component involves in- depth personal interviews with mothers of farmworker children (n=30) to develop a comprehensive understanding of the beliefs farmworker families have about children's weight and obesity, and the factors shaping children's diet and physical activity patterns. Results of this project component will be useful in identifying the concrete factors that shape children's eating and physical activity patterns, and they will inform the content of the second project component. The second project component involves quantitative assessment of farmworker children's dietary and physical activity patterns. A representative sample of 3 year- old farmworker children and their mothers (n=250) will be recruited using a site-based sampling strategy and assessed every three months over a two year period. Data collection includes 24-hour dietary recalls, use of accelerometers for collecting objective assessments of children's physical activity, and maternal interviews. The results of this project component will provide robust descriptions of children's dietary and physical activity behavior. They will also be useful for intervention development by targeting particularly at-risk children, identifying specific factors to be addressed in effective interventions, and discerning ideal time periods for implementing interventions.

Public Health Relevance

The project focuses on the dietary and physical activity patterns of young Latino farmworker children. Farmworker children are a medically underserved and health disparate population. The results of this project will help health workers better determine how many farmworker children are overweight or obese, and how to design intervention programs that reduce overweight and obesity in these children by promoting healthy diet and physical habits early in life.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Community Influences on Health Behavior (CIHB)
Program Officer
King, Rosalind B
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Wake Forest University Health Sciences
Family Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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