Do Mothers’ Beliefs on “Chubby Is Healthy” Affect their Children’s Obesity?

Hongyun Han, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Existing research has found that some Hispanic children start their obesity as early as 3 years old and their BMI grows faster during summer. Hispanic parents’ cultural norms are proposed to be responsible for their children’s obesity problems. However, few studies directly test the dynamic role of cultural norms on children’s transition between obesity and normal weights. In this study, I examine the effect of mothers’ cultural beliefs, family income and children’s extra-curriculum activities on children’s transition in and out of obese status during their elementary years. Using Early Childhood Longitudinal Studies-Kindergarten data, I found that Hispanic children not only were at higher risk of being overweight at the beginning of elementary schools years, but also their faster transitions into obesity exacerbated their disadvantages around six years later. Hispanic mothers’ belief on “Chubby is healthy” may enormously damage to their children’s body weight.

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Presented in Poster Session 3