A US study of poorer families has found that Hispanic toddlers are twice as likely to be obese as white or black children. It has also found that in the poorer communities, pre-school obesity it strongly linked to whether the child takes a bottle to bed and whether its mother is obese.
The research study was led by Dr Rachel Kimbro from the Department of Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and two colleagues from Columbia and Princeton Universities.
The study is published in American Journal of Public Health.
Dr Kimbro and her colleagues looked at the ethnic and racial differences and levels of obesity in 2,000 three-year old toddlers in a nationwide sample drawn from low-income urban families in 20 cities. 35 per cent of the children were classed as overweight or obese.
Their methods included observing and interviewing the families at home at three points in the toddlers' lives: aged 0 (at birth), 1 and 3 years. They analyzed the data statistically using regression analysis to find out how ranges in overweight and obesity levels varied with race/ethnicity and what they observed.
The results showed that the Hispanic children were twice as likely to be overweight or obese as black or white children, but they could not find out why. However, they did show that weight at birth and whether the baby took a bottle to bed were strongly linked to obesity risk. 14 per cent of the Hispanic toddlers took a bottle to bed at age 3, as compared with 6 per cent of the whites and 4 per cent of the blacks.
Another significant factor was the weight of the mother - obese 3 year olds were more likely to be linked to with obese mothers.
The researchers wondered whether cultural differences, might explain some of these variances. For instance, is it possible that Hispanic communities regard chubbiness as a healthy sign in toddlers?
The researchers concluded that even as early as aged 3, problems with being overweight are evident, and that in low-income families, Hispanic children with overweight mothers are the ones most likely to be obese themselves.
"Racial and Ethnic Differentials in Children’s Overweight and Obesity Among 3-Year-Olds."
Rachel Tolbert Kimbro, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Sara McLanahan.
AJPH Dec 28, 2006, 10.2105/AJPH.2005.080812
First Look, published online ahead of print.
Click here for Abstract.
Written by: Catharine Paddock
Writer: Medical News Today
Tags: obesity, hispanic, toddlers, children, fat, health, diet, Pre-School, US, poor, study, university, public health