Abstract| Volume 54, ISSUE 7, SUPPLEMENT , S27, July 2022

P020 A Path Analysis Model Examining Perception of Healthy Body Weight, Dieting Behaviors and Body Mass Index in Hispanic Families

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      Research has shown that children can experience body dissatisfaction and strive for thinness. This may, in part, be caused by interactions between the children and their parents. However, with Hispanic families, these interactions may differ. Familism, family-oriented behaviors and attitudes, has been linked to the Hispanic Health Paradox. Through familism, parents may be able to influence their children's acceptance (or rejection) of their body shapes and sizes, thereby protecting Hispanics from obesity. Yet, there is no research in this area.


      This study examines the associations between Hispanic parents’ perception of a child's healthy body size and their child's Body Mass Index (BMI). Relationships between parents’ dieting behaviors and their child's BMI were also investigated.

      Study Design/Settings/Participants

      Secondary analysis was performed using baseline data from the South Texas Early Prevention Study-PreK, a coordinated school health program on preschool children's health outcomes (n = 1,270). Since very few male parents participated, only data completed by female parents was used in analyses (n = 534).

      Measurable Outcome/Analysis

      Parents completed questionnaires (English or Spanish) on family characteristics, parents’ perception of a child's healthy body size and dieting behaviors. BMI was calculated by weight and height gathered at school. Path analysis was performed to examine the influence of these variables on each other.


      Parents’ perception of a child's healthy body size had a significant path to child's BMI that accounted for 2% of the variance. Paths between parents’ perception of a child's healthy body size to parents’ dieting behavior (b = .134, P < 0.001) and child's BMI (b = .149, P < 0.001) were significant. Five-percent of the variance (R2 = .048) in child's BMI was explained from the combined effect of parents’ perception of a child's healthy body size and dieting behavior.


      Parental attitudes and behaviors influenced child's weight, directly and indirectly. Hispanic cultural values and beliefs can be further researched for purposes of preventing childhood obesity, eating disorders and psychological effects of obesity.


      Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health (Award No. 1 CPIMP171151-01-00)