Effects of parental origins and length of residency on adiposity measures and nutrition in urban middle school students: a cross-sectional study

Kuryan, Ranita; Frankel, David; Cervoni, Barbie; Koltun, Audrey; Lowell, Barbara; Altshuler, Lisa; Rosenbaum, Michael; Shelov, Steven; Carey, Dennis; Accacha, Siham; Fennoy, Ilene; Rapaport, Robert; Rosenfeld, Warren; Ten, Svetlana; Speiser, Phyllis

Background: The prevalence of obesity in U.S. has been rising at an alarming rate, particularly among Hispanic, African, and Asian minority groups. This trend is due in part to excessive calorie consumption and sedentary lifestyle. We sought to investigate whether parental origins influence eating behaviors in healthy urban middle school students. Methods: A multiethnic/racial population of students (N = 182) enrolled in the ROAD (Reduce Obesity and Diabetes) Study, a school-based trial to assess clinical, behavioral, and biochemical risk factors for adiposity and its co-morbidities completed questionnaires regarding parental origins, length of US residency, and food behaviors and preferences. The primary behavioral questionnaire outcome variables were nutrition knowledge, attitude, intention and behavior, which were then related to anthropometric measures of waist circumference, BMI z-scores, and percent body fat. Two-way analysis of variance was used to evaluate the joint effects of number of parents born in the U.S. and ethnicity on food preference and knowledge score. The Tukey-Kramer method was used to compute pairwise comparisons to determine where differences lie. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to analyze the joint effects of number of parents born in the US and student ethnicity, along with the interaction term, on each adiposity measure outcome. Pearson correlation coefficients were used to examine the relationships between maternal and paternal length of residency in the US with measures of adiposity, food preference and food knowledge. Results: African Americans had significantly higher BMI, waist circumference and body fat percentage compared to other racial and ethnic groups. Neither ethnicity/race nor parental origins had an impact on nutrition behavior. Mothers’ length of US residency positively correlated with students’ nutrition knowledge, but not food attitude, intention or behavior. Conclusions: Adiposity measures in children differ according to ethnicity and race. In contrast, food behaviors in this middle school sample were not influenced by parental origins. Longer maternal US residency benefited offspring in terms of nutrition knowledge only. We suggest that interventions to prevent obesity begin in early childhood.


Also Published In

International Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology

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Academic Units
BioMed Central
Published Here
September 9, 2014