Date of Award

7-27-2009

Degree Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Monica Swahn - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Frances McCarty - Co-Chair

Abstract

Abstract Purpose: Acculturation is associated with negative health behaviors and dietary practices among Latino’s in the U.S. Many social aspects include educational attainment, poverty, cultural norms and socio-cultural markers such as acculturation have been shown to directly and indirectly influence risk for obesity. However, few studies have examined the impact that acculturation has on obesity among children. For this reason, the objective of this thesis is to examine the prevalence and correlates of overweight in Latino children focusing specifically on language spoken at home as a proxy measure for acculturation. Methods: Secondary analysis were conducted of the National Survey of Children’s Health (2003). The cross-sectional analyses were limited to Hispanic children ages 6-17. Descriptive, bivariate, and multivariate analyses were conducted. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted to determine the association between overweight and language spoken at home, age, gender, educational attainment, media use, neighborhood safety and exercise frequency. Finally, stratified analyses were conducted to determine the prevalence and correlates of overweight in Spanish versus English speaking households. Results: Currently, the CDC reports that the prevalence of overweight among Latino children is 22%, higher than both non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black respectively. The findings show that Spanish language spoken at home is significantly associated with overweight among Latino children (Adj.OR 1.25 95% CI:1.09-1.43). Educational attainment showed significant association with increase in overweight; the lower the educational attainment the more likely these children were overweight. Additionally, frequent exercise reduced likelihood of overweight. Conclusions: Although, the findings are contradictory to the literature,primary language is associated with overweight for Latino children. The results also suggest that there are important similarities and differences between primary Spanish and English speaking Latino household that can be used to inform prevention programs and strategies for reducing overweight specifically among Latinos.

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