Psychosocial Factors of Diet and Physical Activity among Rural, Hispanic Children: Findings from a Multilevel Health Intervention Study

J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2019 Dec;6(6):1218-1227. doi: 10.1007/s40615-019-00623-7. Epub 2019 Aug 5.


Objective: To examine the relationship of psychosocial factors, such as self-efficacy, family role modeling, and perceptions of the environment, on diet, physical activity, and sedentary behavior in Hispanic children living in rural Washington State.

Methods: Gender, heights, and weights were obtained from Hispanic 8-12 year olds (n = 553) from two rural communities in Lower Yakima, Washington. A subsample of 179 children provided psychosocial measures, diet, and screen time via questionnaire and physical activity via accelerometer. Body mass index percentiles were used to calculate the prevalence of obesity. The association of demographic and psychosocial measures on the mean difference (95% confidence interval (CI)) of fruit, vegetable, and sugar consumption and minutes spent active was estimated using linear regression models.

Results: Prevalence of obesity was 35%. Children with obesity consumed one-fifth (- 0.3, - 0.02) fewer cups of fruits, 2.2 (0.1, 4.2) more teaspoons of total added sugars, and spent 16.1 (- 22.0, - 10.2) fewer minutes in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day compared with children with healthy weights. Males consumed more added sugars and reported more screen time than females, but spent more daily minutes in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Higher fruit and vegetable self-efficacy scores were associated with more consumption of fruits and vegetables, more engagement in light physical activity, and less time spent sedentary per day.

Conclusion: Male gender and some psychosocial measures were associated with obesogenic behaviors. Insight about factors associated with obesity-related behaviors in rural, Hispanic children may help the development of successful and effective behavioral health interventions for this understudied population.

Keywords: Hispanic children; Obesity; Obesogenic behaviors; Psychosocial factors; Rural.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry
  • Child
  • Diet / psychology*
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data
  • Dietary Sugars
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology
  • Pediatric Obesity / ethnology*
  • Pediatric Obesity / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Psychology
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Screen Time
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Sex Factors
  • Vegetables
  • Washington / epidemiology


  • Dietary Sugars