The Role of Migration and Aculturation in Childhood Obesity

Investigator: Janet Wojcicki, MD, MPH
Sponsor: University of California Institute for Mexico and the U.S. (UC MEXUS)

Location(s): United States


Previous studies have found increased acculturation to the US lifestyle increases risk for obesity in Latinos. However, methodologies differ, and results in children are inconsistent. Moreover, previous studies have not evaluated risk factors within the heterogeneous US population. We recruited 144 self-identified Latino school children and their mother or father in grades 4-6 in San Francisco parochial schools and South San Francisco public schools using an information letter distributed to all students. Children and parents had weights, heights, demographic information, dietary patterns and lifestyle variables collected in English or Spanish through an interview format. In stratified analysis, significant differences in risk factors existed between Mexican origin versus Central/South American Latino children. The processes of acculturation likely impact eating and lifestyle practices differentially among Latino groups. Interventions should focus on ensuring that all children eat a nutritious breakfast and take into consideration ethnicity when working with Latino populations.