Parental cultural perspectives in relation to weight-related behaviors and concerns of African-American girls.


OBJECTIVE: To determine whether cultural perspectives of parents may influence children's eating and physical activity behaviors and patterns of weight gain. RESEARCH METHODS AND PROCEDURES: African-American girls (ages 8 to 10 years) and their parents (or caregivers) (n = 210) participated at one of four Girls Health Enrichment Multisite Studies Phase 1 Field Centers. At baseline, parents completed questionnaires adapted from the African-American Acculturation Scale (AAAS), the Multiethnic Identity Scale (MEIS), and an original question on Global Cultural Identity. Girls' baseline measures included physical activity assessment by accelerometer, 24-hour dietary recalls, and questionnaires about body image and weight concerns. RESULTS: Principal components analysis indicated the expected AAAS and MEIS factor structures, with moderate to good internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha = 0.61 to 0.82) and some intercorrelation among these measures (r = 0.17 to 0.57). Overall mean (SD) AAAS subscale scores of 4.1 (2.1) and 5.5 (1.8) of a possible 7 and 3.0 (0.9) of a possible 4 on the MEIS indicated, respectively, moderate to high levels of parental African-American cultural orientation and identity with moderate variability. Parental AAAS and MEIS scores were inversely correlated with girls' body image discrepancy and weight concern. One AAAS subscale was positively associated with total energy intake and percentage energy from fat. Overall, however, parental AAAS and MEIS scores were unrelated or inconsistently related to girls' physical activity and diet measures. DISCUSSION: The AAAS and MEIS measures had acceptable psychometric properties, except for weight concern, but did not give a consistent picture of how parental perspectives related to the girls' baseline attitudes and behaviors.

Publication Title

Obesity research