There is a fundamental gap in understanding how poverty, children's early nutrition, access to federal anti-poverty programs and food insecurity are related to obesity in Hispanic and African-American preschool children. The long-term goal is to establish policies that will reverse the rise of obesity in minority children. The objective of this particular application is to identify the relationship among demographic and environmental factors that might contribute to obesity in minority children. The central hypothesis is that a number of demographic and early environmental stressors place minority children at risk for obesity. The rationale for the proposed research is that, once the factors that are related to obesity in minority children are known, they can be used as the basis for developing local, state and federal policies that can lead to the reversal of food insecurity and obesity across low-income minority households. This approach is innovative, because it will employ the use of a national dataset in which data has been collected for approximately 8,900 children between the ages of 48-57 months across the various racial/ethnic groups on child health, physical measures, poverty status, and household food security. In order to begin to understand the long term implications for the inadequacy of food, poverty, and nutrition on young children's developmental and overall physical health it is essential that we begin to examine the data from a developmental perspective. The Early Childhood Longitudinal Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) data set will provide the information necessary to begin to identify the variables that, either alone or taken together, can predict the impact of poverty, food insecurity, and early nutritional habits are related to the occurrence of obesity in African- American and Hispanic children.
Over the last decade, the rate of obesity has disproportionately increased within African- American and Latino children. There is a fundamental gap in understanding how poverty, children's early nutrition, access to federal anti-poverty programs and food insecurity are related to obesity within this population. The relevance of the proposed research to public health is that obesity can lead to other health problems such as diabetes, which are also on the rise in this population. Information from this research will be useful in adding to our current knowledge concerning the relationship between certain risk factors and obesity, while simultaneously providing information that could be used to change the current health care practices and poverty initiatives.