Academic journal article Childhood Obesity

Hispanic Parental Perceptions of Child Weight in Preschool-Aged Children: An Integrated Review

Academic journal article Childhood Obesity

Hispanic Parental Perceptions of Child Weight in Preschool-Aged Children: An Integrated Review

Article excerpt

[Author Affiliation]

Kristine I. Gauthier. College of Nursing, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO.

Bonnie Gance-Cleveland. College of Nursing, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO.

Address correspondence to: Kristine I. Gauthier, PhD, MPH, PNP-BC, Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, 13120 East 19th Avenue, Aurora, CO 80045, E-mail: Kristine.gauthier@ucdenver.edu

Introduction

Childhood obesity continues to be a significant health concern throughout the United States, particularly within minority populations. In the United States, the prevalence of overweight (BMI ≥85th to <95th percentile) and obesity (BMI ≥95th percentile) in preschool-aged children has dramatically increased over recent decades, with higher rates evident in ethnic minorities.1,2 Although most recent data suggest a decrease in prevalence rates in preschool-aged children, significant disparities persist for ethnic minority groups.2 It has been predicted that if the incidence of obesity persists, children will have shorter life expectancies then their parents.3 Parents play an integral role in early childhood, and parental perceptions regarding their child's weight are key to obesity prevention. This integrative review explores current literature to identify Hispanic parental perceptions of their preschool-aged child's weight status.

Background and Significance

Differences in ethnic prevalence of overweight and obesity are apparent in early childhood. Of ethnic minorities, Hispanic preschoolers have been found to have significantly higher rates of obesity than other ethnic groups.2,4-6 Currently, 16.7% of Hispanic preschool-aged children are obese, compared to 3.5% of Caucasian preschool-aged children.2 Weight-related health problems and cardiovascular risk factors often present during the preschool years, with increased risk factors in children of ethnic minorities.7 Adiposity rebound occurs during the preschool years, and an earlier adiposity rebound during preschool years may influence abnormal increases in BMI throughout life.1 Overweight and obesity originating in preschool-aged children has been shown to persist into adolescence and adulthood.1,8

Obesity-related health disparities, including diabetes, stroke, chronic liver disease, and certain cancers, are higher within adult Hispanic populations, and highlight the need for addressing obesity within these high-risk groups.9 In the United States, the economic burden of childhood obesity is estimated annually to be $14.1 billion in direct medical costs.10 These costs, coupled with the long-term health consequences mentioned above, highlight the need for early interventions. The rapid increase in the US Hispanic population coupled with the dramatic rise of overweight in minority populations is a major public health concern, one that highlights the need for early recognition and intervention.1,11

Early childhood is an ideal time to target obesity prevention; habits related to diet and activity are shaped during the preschool years.12,13 Parents are particularly influential during the preschool years with regard to modeling behaviors and adopting healthy behaviors.13 Accurate parental perceptions are key to addressing excess weight. Parents must recognize excess weight in their child as a precursor to developing concern about the consequences of obesity; accurate perceptions are instrumental to motivate behavior change. Moreover, childhood obesity experts recommend focusing preventative efforts on parents of preschool-aged children given that parental beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes may influence child weight gain.14 Several inherent cultural implications and preferences specific to parental perceptions within the Hispanic populations have been identified throughout the literature. …

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