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Study reveals some Latina mothers unwittingly chart an obese future for their children

LatinaLista — Even before researchers conducted their study on childhood obesity differences among white, black and Latino children, they hypothesized that black and Latino children would have higher rates of obesity-related risk factors in their early years.


It wasn’t a hard hypothesis.

In the March edition of Pediatrics, researchers release the findings of their study, “Racial/Ethnic Differences in Early-Life Risk Factors for Childhood Obesity,” that prove that when it comes to starting children’s lives on a healthy regimen some Latina mothers need serious education.

According to the study that surveyed a total of 1343 white, 355 black, and 128 Hispanic mother- child pairs, more Latina mothers:

  • Suffered from gestational diabetes
  • Smoked during pregnancy — 22% versus 12% for white mothers and 14% for black mothers.
  • Suffered from depression during pregnancy — the study found that maternal stressors were associated with childhood obesity.
  • Did not exclusively breastfeed their children through 6 months of age (Latinas – 90%; blacks – 88%; whites – 76%)
  • Introduced their babies, younger than four months of age, to solid food
  • Pressured their children to eat at 1 year of age
  • Allowed television in their 4-year-old’s bedrooms
  • Bought their 3-year-olds fast food

These are the areas where the Latinas surveyed in this study ranked the highest, yet, unfortunately, where Latinas didn’t come in first, they ranked second in other bad practices.

For example, like allowing 2-year-olds sugar sweetened beverages like soda, Kool-Aid and flavored milks to drink or only letting their children ages 6 months to 2 years get less than 12 hours of sleep a day.

Overall, the researchers concluded that there exists many more risk factors for childhood obesity among Latino and black children than white children.

The obvious conclusion to draw is that within some areas, like amount of sleep needed, introduction of solid food and smoking during pregnancy there is a fundamental lack of education among the Latinas involved in this study.

In other areas, like buying fast food for 3-year-olds (Happy Meals) or letting 4-year-olds sleep in a room with a TV or drinking Kool Aid, those findings seem to have less to do with anything other than convenience and the fact that there is the likelihood of older children in the family who are enjoying those Happy Meals and sugar-sweetened beverages or watching TV in their bedrooms and the younger children can’t be excluded, if the older children are enjoying those things — not if any parent wants peace and quiet.

The study didn’t reveal the total family dynamics of the women included in the survey but the study does underscore the fact that more education needs to be done within the Latino community if childhood obesity is to be combatted, not to mention ensuring a healthier pregnancy for the mothers.



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