• beliefs;
  • childhood overweight;
  • feeding practices;
  • Latino

ABSTRACT Objective: To examine maternal beliefs and practices related to weight status, child feeding, and child overweight in the Latino culture that may contribute to the rising rates of overweight among preschool Latino children in the United States.

Design and Sample: This 2-phase qualitative study relies on data obtained in 6 focus groups with a total of 31 primarily Spanish-speaking, low-income mothers, followed by 20 individual, in-depth interviews with women participating in a health promotion educational program.

Measures: Child-feeding beliefs, practices, and weight status perceptions were elicited.

Results: The findings indicated that most respondents reported personal struggles with weight gain, particularly during and after pregnancy, and were concerned that their children would become obese. Although subjects understood the health and social consequences related to overweight, many discussed the pressures of familial and cultural influences endorsing a “chubby child.”

Conclusions: Education and interventions that incorporate “culturally mediated” pathways to address mothers' feeding practices are essential for the prevention and control of childhood overweight among low-income Latinos. Nurses should be aware of the social and cultural influences on Latina mothers' beliefs and practices related to weight status and feeding practices and address these in their education approaches to prevent childhood overweight and obesity with this population group.