Latino children in Spanish-speaking households are at greatest risk for obesity, according to a UCLA study that used federal data to calculate growth trajectories for 15,000 youngsters from the nation's largest racial and ethnic groups.
Being overweight or obese is becoming more and more common among young children and racial minorities. About 25% of children living in the U.S. between the ages 2 and 5 years are overweight and young Latino children from immigrant families are disproportionately affected by overweight and obesity, putting them at a greater risk for health problems and diseases.
At age 4, Latinos from Spanish-speaking households had the highest BMIs, followed by Latinos in English-speaking households, African Americans, whites and Asians, the study found. But Latino children from immigrant households and African American children had steeper growth trajectories. So by age 6, African American children had the second-highest BMIs, next to children from Spanish-speaking homes.
"When we are talking about Spanish Latina moms, which we use as a proxy for low acculturation or meaning a more recent immigrant, we may be seeing different triggers or stressors in this population that may also play a role such as isolation, being away from family, or being in a different country or neighborhood where you don't have as strong of a support system," she said. Her study was supported by a CTSI K Bridge Award, which funds research likely to lead to an NIH K Award.
Amjad Murdos is a third-year UCLA undergraduate from Rochester, Minn. He is studying psychobiology.