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Keywords

obesity; parenting; child health; Mexican American health

Abstract

Introduction: Mothers play an important role in preventing childhood obesity; however, might differ in how they define healthy weight and the associated consequences. Due to the lack of research investigating how Mexican American mothers perceive childhood obesity, the purpose of this paper is to qualitatively assess Mexican-American mothers’ perceptions regarding childhood obesity, its causes and consequences.

Methods: Three focus groups, two in Spanish and one in English, were conducted with 23 mothers in Bryan, TX. Thematic analysis was performed by three researchers independently using sentences as the unit of meaning.

Findings: Mexican American mothers believed that a child needs to be a healthy weight to be healthy; however, the mothers varied in their methods for determining if their child was at a healthy weight. Mothers identified several underlying causes of childhood obesity including genetics, parenting, household characteristics and culture.

Conclusion: Understanding the views of mothers of at-risk of rearing overweight children are important in elucidating effective strategies for preventing childhood obesity. Communication messages for this group might be more effective if they are contextualized within the culture, household and family.