Current Content
Volume 35, Number 6
November/December 2009

Exploring the Meaning of Excess Child Weight and Health: Shared Viewpoints of Mexican Parents Of Preschool Children
Leigh Small
Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk
Deborah Anderson-Gifford
Jeffrey S. Hampl


In the United States, the prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity has reached epidemic levels, with U.S. Hispanic children, a sub-group mainly composed of children of Mexican decent, disproportionately affected. Prior research has suggested that Mexican parents may view overweight in early childhood as desirable; however, it is unclear if this is still the case. Therefore, this qualitative study explored the beliefs of 11 Mexican parents of preschoolers regarding weight and health. Following coding and clustering of themes from the transcribed audio-recorded meetings, six patterns were identified: (a) meanings and relationships about excess weight in childhood and child health, (b) causes of overweight and obesity, (c) uncertainty about knowing and not knowing, (d) from Mexico to America: enticements of a new land and time as a commodity, (e) the effects of society on personal and parental goals: the work of parenting in the United States, and (f) identified needs and action strategies. In summary, parents involved in this group discussion readily associated overweight/obesity with poor mental and physical health; however, they were uncertain how they would "know" if their children were overweight.