Are household factors putting immigrant Hispanic children at risk of becoming overweight: a community-based study in eastern North Carolina

J Community Health. 2004 Oct;29(5):387-404. doi: 10.1023/b:johe.0000038654.40121.df.


North Carolina has one of the fastest growing populations of Hispanic immigrants in the U.S. The prevalence of overweight among Hispanic children in the state has increased to 17%. Therefore, the objectives of this descriptive, exploratory study were to identify potential risk factors for childhood overweight at the household level among 128 immigrant Hispanic families with school-aged children living in Eastern North Carolina. Data concerning parental beliefs about overweight children, family participation in physical activity, and household availability of higher-calorie foods were collected using a structured, close-ended interview form. Forty-seven percent of parents believed that overweight children are unhealthy, 11% that if a child is overweight, it is God's will, and over 90% believed that overweight children should be taken to a nutritionist or physician for help with weight reduction. The activities undertaken by families four to seven times per week were watching television (70%), listening to music (69%), and reading (61%). Cookies, cold cereals, crackers, whole milk, ice cream, cheese, hotdogs, peanut butter, soft drinks, fruit drinks, chips, and pudding were regularly available in a majority of households. Regression analysis indicated that household income, parental education, and rural versus urban residence had no significant impact on frequency of family participation in physical activity or household availability of higher-calorie foods. Findings suggest a need for bilingual community health professionals to develop culturally sensitive wellness programs targeted at immigrant Hispanic families that promote greater engagement in moderate-intensity physical activity and more frequent consumption of lower-calorie foods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Diet / psychology
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / ethnology
  • Parents / psychology
  • Reading
  • Risk Factors
  • Television