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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Obesity Risk Assessment Tool for Low-Income Spanish Speaking Immigrant Parents with Young Children: Validity with BMI and Biomarkers of Obesity.

  • Author(s): Townsend, Marilyn S
  • Shilts, Mical K
  • Lanoue, Louise
  • Drake, Christiana
  • Díaz Rios, L Karina
  • Styne, Dennis M
  • Keim, Nancy L
  • Ontai, Lenna
  • et al.

Children of Hispanic origin bear a high risk of obesity. Child weight gain trajectories are influenced by the family environment, including parent feeding practices. Excessive body fat can result in unhealthful metabolic and lipid profiles and increased risk of metabolic diseases. The objective was to estimate criterion validity of an obesity risk assessment tool targeting Spanish-speaking families of Mexican origin using anthropometric measures and blood values of their young children. A cross-sectional study design with five data collection sessions was conducted over an eight-week period and involved 206 parent/child dyads recruited at Head Start and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children in Northern California. Main outcome measures were criterion validity of Niños Sanos, a pediatric obesity risk assessment tool, using anthropometric measures and blood biomarkers. Niños Sanos scores were inversely related to child BMI-for-age percentiles (p = 0.02), waist-for-height ratios (p = 0.05) and inversely related to blood biomarkers for the metabolic index (p = 0.03) and lipid index (p = 0.05) and positively related to anti-inflammatory index (p = 0.047). Overall, children with higher Niños Sanos scores had more healthful lipid, metabolic and inflammatory profiles, as well as lower BMI-for-age percentiles and waist-to height ratios, providing evidence for the criterion validity of the tool. Niños Sanos can be used by child obesity researchers, by counselors and medical professionals during clinic visits as a screening tool and by educators as a tool to set goals for behavior change.

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