Date of Award

7-24-2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Committee Chair

Daniel Muñoz, Ph.D.

Abstract

The prevalence of overweight and obesity is a health concern for Latino children and adolescents in the United States. The purpose of this study is to investigate the association of acculturation and the frequency of family mealtime and examine the relationship of acculturation and weight in Mexican-American children. Participants were 23 third grade students who self-identified as Latino from an elementary school in the Pacific Northwest. Self-report questionnaires were used to assess level of acculturation and frequency of family mealtimes and participant weight and height was taken. Two levels of acculturation were identified within the sample, low and moderate. Although no significant differences were found in frequency of family mealtimes between the low acculturation and moderate acculturation groups, a significant difference in BMI percentile was detected between the different levels acculturation; those with a higher level of acculturation had higher BMIs. Overall, data suggests that a higher level of acculturation may be associated with an unhealthy lifestyle for Latino youth. Future research is needed to explore the impact of immigration, social and environmental inequities, and cultural experiences on behaviors contributing to obesity. Research is needed that investigates the most effective means to prevent overweight among Latino youth and effective intervention approaches that encompass the family unit and the physical environment.

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