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Child Obes. 2012 Dec;8(6):518-25. doi: 10.1089/chi.2011.0077.

Prevalence of obesity among young Asian-American children.

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Lewin Group, 3130 Fairview Park Drive, Falls Church, VA 22042, USA.



Asian-American children are considered to be at low risk of obesity, but previous estimates have not distinguished between children from different Asian countries. We estimate the prevalence of obesity among Asian-American children by mother's country of origin, generational status, and family socioeconomic factors using a secondary analysis of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) wave III (children ∼4 years old) dataset.


The ECLS-B is a nationally representative study of children born in 2001 that oversampled births to Asian mothers. Asian ethnic categories included Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Asian Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, and Other Asian/Pacific Islander. The primary outcome variable was weight status; overweight = BMI ≥85(th) and obese = BMI ≥95(th) percentile for age and gender.


Twenty-six percent [95% confidence interval (CI) 23.6-29.1] of Asian-American 4 year olds were overweight or obese, and 13% (95% CI 10.2-15.2) were obese. Chinese-American children were at lower risk of overweight or obesity (23.5%, 95% CI 18.4-29.5 ) compared to whites (36%, 95% CI 34.3-37.7); Asian-Indian 4 year olds had the lowest rates of overweight or obesity (15.6%, 95% CI 8.0-28.2) and were most likely to be underweight (10%, 95% CI 4.9-19.4). Among Asians,Vietnamese-American children had the highest rate of overweight or obesity (34.7%, 95% CI 0.6-52.3).


Vietnamese-American children are at elevated risk of obesity and overweight, whereas Chinese and Asian-Indian children are at low risk. After controlling for Asian ethnicity, maternal education, and household poverty status, Asian-American children whose mothers were born outside the United States were less likely to be obese [odds ratio = 0.55 (0.32-0.95), p = 0.03].

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