The prevalence of overweight among children in the United States has increased markedly during the past several decades. Latino children are at particular risk of overweight. Children who are overweight are at increased risk of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, coronary artery disease, and type 2 diabetes. Childhood overweight is partially due to behavioral factors, but the specific behavioral factors contributing to overweight among Latino children are poorly understood. Parental behaviors are thought to be important influences, on children's obesity, but most studies to date have examined a narrow range of parental behaviors. Moreover, few studies have focused on Latino children. There is an urgent need for more comprehensive research that elucidates the ways in which multiple aspects of parents'behaviors influence overweight among Latino children, and which considers the socioeconomic and cultural contexts in which Latino children's dietary intake and accelerated weight gain occur. This longitudinal study will focus on Mexican Americans, who constitute the largest Latino group in the U.S. The research will examine parental and family member behaviors that promote or protect against obesity among Mexican American children. The study will particularly focus on parental and family members'dietary-related behaviors, including child-feeding practices, parental modeling of eating, and family meals. The research will (a) assess whether parental and extended family members'dietary-related behaviors predict children's dietary intake;(b) assess whether parental and extended family members'behaviors predict children's weight status, mediated by children's dietary intake;and (c) examine the effects of socioeconomic status and cultural factors on parental behaviors. Specific cultural factors to be examined include extended family support, perceptions of food, and preferred child body size. For this longitudinal research, we will recruit 376 Mexican American children, ages 8-9, and their parents, from the membership lists of a large HMO. At annual home visits over a two- year period, we will interview and assess mothers, fathers, and children. We will obtain both self-report and observational assessments of child-feeding practices.;We will utilize state-of-the-art methods to measure dietary intake, physical activity, and obtain anthropometric data. The study will provide vital information for family-focused behavioral interventions targeting obesity among Mexican American children, particularly regarding parental behaviors that influence the development of obesity. Moreover, the research will provide critical information to improve the cultural competence of future interventions, by taking into account both SES and cultural factors that are related to parents'behaviors.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Kidney, Nutrition, Obesity and Diabetes (KNOD)
Program Officer
Arteaga, Sonia M
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University of California San Francisco
Schools of Medicine
San Francisco
United States
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Penilla, Carlos; Tschann, Jeanne M; Deardorff, Julianna et al. (2017) Fathers' feeding practices and children's weight status in Mexican American families. Appetite 117:109-116
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