Perceptions of Childhood Obesity on the Texas-Mexico Border

Authors

  • Bryan Bayles

    1. Bryan Bayles, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor, Department of Family & Community Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas.
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Bryan Bayles, Department of Family & Community Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, Mail Code 7795, San Antonio, TX 78229-3900. E-mail: baylesb@uthscsa.edu

Abstract

ABSTRACT Objectives: We sought to determine the extent of intracultural consensus in perceptions of childhood obesity among Mexican American mothers living on the Texas-Mexico border.

Design and Sample: A descriptive, cross-sectional study examined women's judgments about the parameters of childhood obesity. The convenience sample consisted of 61 Mexican American women who were mothers of at least 1 child under age 18.

Measures: Participants underwent an anthropometric assessment and were surveyed regarding self-perceived weight and household food security. They were then shown photographs of 36 Mexican American boys ages 6 and 7 and asked to sort them into categories by weight status; they also selected 3 children they believed represented the healthiest, most appropriate weight for age. Accuracy scores were computed and examined for bivariate relationships with women's own body mass index (BMI) and survey responses.

Results: We found considerable intracultural variation in women's judgments, which could not be explained by the anthropometric and survey variables tested. Women selected a wide range of percentiles as representative of a healthy child. On average, about half of the truly overweight children (BMI≥95th percentile), however, were considered normal or even underweight.

Conclusions: Local perceptions and language may not correspond to CDC/WHO clinical standards. Larger studies are needed to confirm these preliminary findings.

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