Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Biomedical Sciences (M.H.S.)

Degree Program

Biomedical Sciences


Background. Research in Caucasian girls has shown a relationship between mother’s restrictive feeding practices and girls’ eating in absence of hunger and greater body mass index (BMI). Hispanic children disproportionately suffer from obesity, yet there are limited studies on this relationship.

Purpose. This study sought to examine the relationship between maternal feeding practices (MFP) and child BMI (BMIch); and to explore the effect of demographics and culture on the latter. The hypothesis that BMIch is positively correlated with dietary restriction and monitoring and negatively correlated with pressure to eat was tested.

Subjects. First or second-generation Mexican-American women and their children 5-15 years old (one child:mother pair per family; n=35) were recruited from churches in Grand Rapids, MI.

Methods & Materials. Questionnaires were administered to mothers for demographic, acculturation (BAS) and child-feeding (CFQ) information. BMI (kg/m2) were calculated for mothers and children from measured height and weight.

Analyses. Fisher’s exact test was used to explore difference in proportions in categorical variables of gender, SES, BAS and maternal and child BMI. BMIch distributions. Pearson correlation analysis was used to explore BAS, BMIch and MFP associations. Multiple variable regression was used to determine the strength of association between MFP, and BMIch adjusting for maternal BMI (BMIM).

Results. Gender differences in children regarding social class, maternal acculturation level and BMI percentiles were not statistically significant. Associations of acculturation with BMIchwere not explored due to the cultural homogeneity of the sample. There was a small positive association of BMIch–z scores with maternal restriction (r=0.14, p=0.4) and a weak negative association with monitoring (r=-0.12, p=0.48). Pressure to eat was not explored due to unreliability of the scale in this sample. These relationships were not affected by BMIM in the regression model and were not statistically significant.

Conclusion. In this small sample of Hispanic mother-child pairs, MFP were not significantly associated with BMIch. These findings suggest interventions in MFP might not impact on the childhood obesity in Hispanics.