Healthy Lifestyles Begin with Good Nutrition

Friday, 3 August 2012: 10:15 AM

Elizabeth Reifsnider, PhD, FAAN, WHNP, PHNCS-BC1
Colleen Keller, PhD, RN-C, APRN, FAHA, FNAP, FAAN1
Martha Hinojosa, PhD, RN, FNP2
Cristina Barroso, DrPH3
Angelica Roncancio, PhD4
Bonnie Gance-Cleveland, PhD, RNC, PNP, FAAN5
Leigh Small, PhD, PNP1
(1)College of Nursing and Health Innovation, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ
(2)Menninger Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Stimulant Addiction, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
(3)Public Health, The University of Texas Houston School of Public Health - Brownsville Regional Campus, Brownsville, TX
(4)School of Public Health, University of Texas Houston Health Science Center, Houston, TX
(5)College of Nursing and Healthcare Innovation, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ

Purpose: Early intervention is the most effective means to combat child obesity, as interventions later in childhood are less effective. Along with birth weight and parental body size, infant feeding is recognized as one of the most influential biological and environmental factors that affect weight gain during infancy. Parental feeding practices have a strong impact on children’s food availability, eating behaviors, and weight.

Methods:  A longitudinal cohort study followed Latino children (N=229 mother-child dyads) from 12 to 36 months of age to determine the relationships between early feeding and nutrition, parental factors including acculturation, and weight status of children. The study occurred in a large Southwestern US city. The measures used were: Acculturation Rating Scale for Mexican Americans (ARSMA), parental demographics, 24 hour diet histories from the mothers about their children’s diets, and weight/height of children, mothers, and fathers.

Results: Food items eaten by the children were differentially associated with measures of acculturation (ARSMA, primary language of mother, maternal/paternal country of origin). Food items eaten by children also differed by acculturation status between children of Mexican acculturation and children of Anglo acculturation. The measures that were significantly associated with child body mass index (BMI) were foods high in sugar and carbohydrates, length of time breastfed, maternal and paternal BMI, and maternal country of origin.

Conclusion: Children in the study ate a wide variety of foods, many of which are not considered part of a healthy diet. The majority of foods significantly positively associated with child BMI were from a “mainstream” American diet. Supporting breastfeeding is an important step in promoting healthy growth in children.

Acknowledgements: Supported by National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Nursing Research (NIH/NINR) Grant 5R29NR004882 Growth Enhancement for Mexican American Children, and Texas Department of Health Innovation Grant Causes of Obesity among Young Mexican American Children.