Latinos are the largest minority group in the US and childhood obesity is a huge problem for that group mostly because of the easy access to unhealthy and high-calorie dense foods and lack of opportunities and willingness for exercise. The rates of obesity among Latino adolescents (12-19 years old) are 22.8% which is the higher rates of obesity among all adolescent groups in the country.
We investigated the association between Body Mass Index (BMI) in Latino adolescents and demographical and social factors such as family income, geographic location, parental education, gender, the language of interview, family size, and household structure. Participants in this research study were Latino adolescents between the ages of 13-17 years who lived with single mothers, single fathers, married, and unmarried couples, step-parent, or with extra adults in the home. Household structure has been shown to be related to childhood obesity in the general population, but data is limited for adolescents and nonexistent for Latinos. Responses from 2008-2015 were collected in the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and then multiple NHIS surveys have been combined into one system called the Integrated Health Interview Survey (IHIS) from which we obtained data. Bivariate analysis at first showed some association between household structure and BMI, but in the final model, the association disappeared in favor of the other covariates, mostly education and income. In families with parents who had at least a college degree, children had 48% lower odds of becoming obese. Also, after controlling for all the potential confounding variables, females had 18% lower odds of being obese compared to males.
Therefore, interventions to this Latino population should be targeted to increase opportunities for education for Latino parents, incorporating messages about weight management and the importance of having a normal BMI for children.
Jeffrey ES, Banta JE, Modeste NN, Dos Santos H