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Matern Child Health J. 2014 Jan;18(1):73-89. doi: 10.1007/s10995-013-1235-8.

Environmental, personal, and behavioral influences on BMI and acculturation of second generation Hmong children.

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  • 1Panhandle Research and Extension Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Scottsbluff, NE, USA, lfranzen2@unl.edu.

Abstract

This project investigated influences (environmental, personal, and behavioral) on body mass index (BMI) and acculturation of Hmong children born in the United States (US) using the social cognitive theory as the theoretical framework. Using formative information from 12 child focus groups (n = 68) and a review of the literature, a quantitative survey was developed and administered to Hmong children (n = 300) ≥ 9 ≤ 18 years-old. Heights, weights, and acculturation level were measured. B-US(1) were raised in the US and 9-13 years-old (n = 144) and B-US(2) were raised in the US and 14-18 years-old (n = 156). Approximately 50 % of children were classified as overweight/obese (BMI ≥ 85th percentile). Across age and gender sub-groups, questions from the environmental construct appeared to be the most predictive of variances in BMI percentiles (50-60 %). In contrast, acculturation scores were equally predicted by environmental, behavioral, and personal constructs for age and gender sub-groups. Sum acculturation score was significantly higher for B-US(2) compared to B-US(1), with B-US(2) being more acculturated in language use and thought, overall dietary acculturation, and foods eaten at lunch. The high prevalence of obesity in Hmong children suggests that future studies investigate factors influencing obesity to identify the most effective method to reduce/prevent this problem. In particular, acculturation level of the child should be assessed to determine changed dietary behavior and possible risk for obesity.

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