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Ethn Health. 2006 Aug;11(3):265-85.

Using focus group results to inform preschool childhood obesity prevention programming.

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  • 1University of Virginia Health System, Department of Psychiatric Medicine, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.



This study about maternal feeding practices and beliefs was conducted as background for the development of a childhood obesity prevention program for multi-ethnic parents in the USA receiving services from a federal government supplemental nutrition program for low-income mothers.


Using a grounded theory approach, focus groups were conducted with low-income African American, white non-Hispanic (i.e. the majority Caucasian American population), Hispanic and Vietnamese parents to collect cross-cultural perspectives on: (a) infant and child feeding practices, (b) childhood overweight, (c) healthy dietary intake, (d) physical activity and inactivity, and (e) infant feeding information sources.


A content analysis of the data yielded three main themes common to all four groups: (a) lack of awareness of the relationship between increased physical activity and health, (b) the use of food to influence behavior, and (c) the loss of parental control over feeding when a child starts child care or school, and revealed perspectives on age-appropriate food, infant satiety, overweight and information sources that were specific to each group.


Interventions that enhance parent self-efficacy that build on themes that are specific to ethnic groups toward preventing childhood obesity are needed. There is also a need for culturally appropriate information for governmental nutrition programs that is in the client's own language and takes into account ethnic differences in beliefs and traditions.

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