The Influence of Immigrant Status and Acculturation on the Development of Overweight in Latino Families: A Qualitative Study

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Abstract

Exposure to obesogenic environments in the U.S. may foster development of overweight in immigrants with greater acculturation. Few studies document mechanisms of the acculturation process from immigrants' own perspectives or describe implications on the children of immigrants. Focus groups and in-depth interviews were conducted with immigrant Latina mothers (N = 51) examining mothers' beliefs, attitudes and practices related to early child feeding and weight. Focus group participants completing the Marin Acculturation Scale more closely identified with Latino culture, although the mean score (2.04, SD = 0.59) was close to “bicultural”. Analysis revealed seven themes when mothers compared lifestyles between their native countries and the U.S., related to changes in (1) diet, perceived food quality and availability, (2) food and eating practices, (3) breastfeeding practices, (4) beliefs about food, child feeding and weight status, (5) weight status of mothers and children, (6) physical activity and sedentary lifestyles, and (7) social isolation and support.

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