Latino Parents' Perceptions of Physical Activity and Healthy Eating: At the Intersection of Culture, Family, and Health

J Nutr Educ Behav. 2018 Nov-Dec;50(10):968-976. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2017.12.010. Epub 2018 Jun 25.


Objective: To explore Latino parents' perspectives on healthy living and identify strategies to incorporate in a future child obesity intervention.

Design: Descriptive, qualitative study.

Setting: Participants were recruited from an emerging Latino community (area with low [ < 5%] yet growing concentrations of Latinos) in Allegheny County, PA.

Participants: Thirty-two parents of preschool children participated in 5 Spanish-language focus groups.

Phenomenon of interest: Parents' perceptions of a healthy lifestyle (ie, physical activity and nutrition).

Analysis: Data were analyzed using the constant comparison method to identify salient categories, themes, and patterns.

Results: Three overarching themes were identified: (1) Healthy Living: Beyond One's Control; (2) Estamos Acostumbrados [We Are Used to a Certain Lifestyle]; and (3) Latin American and US Culture Conflict. In general, parents perceived maintaining a healthy lifestyle to require enormous effort and that change was difficult given a lack of knowledge and control.

Conclusions and implications: Key intervention approaches with this population may include a focus on the family environment. Increasing knowledge, building self-efficacy, and modeling behavior through family recipe preparation and physical activity breaks may be necessary, as well as an emphasis on and orientation to community resources to support behavior change and physical activity and healthy eating habits.

Keywords: Hispanic American; focus groups; nutrition; pediatric obesity; physical activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Feeding Behavior* / ethnology
  • Feeding Behavior* / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior* / psychology
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Behavior / ethnology
  • Health Behavior / physiology
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice / ethnology*
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pediatric Obesity / prevention & control
  • Pediatric Obesity / psychology
  • Pennsylvania
  • Qualitative Research
  • Young Adult