Investigating how gender differences can vary by parental acculturation

Project: Research project

Project Details


PROJECT SUMMARY Children's food consumption is a proximate determinant of obesity, a health condition with serious implications for short- and long-term morbidity. Children of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. are especially vulnerable to obesity, with boys even more at risk than girls. This pattern motivates the current study, which will accomplish three aims that will produce new knowledge about gender differences in food consumption among children of Mexican immigrants. We will first investigate gender differences in total food consumed, two measures of dietary acculturation, and six measures of (un)healthy eating, along with the role that families have in fostering gender differences. We will then investigate whether there are gender differences in where children of Mexican immigrants consume food and whether these differences help to explain gender differences in food consumption. Finally, we will investigate whether gender differences in what food children consume and where they consume it varies by parental acculturation. The study's aims are motivated by a framework that draws from ecological systems theory to organize research about parenting dynamics within immigrant families and the acculturation of immigrant parents and their children. Aims will be accomplished through novel analysis of data from 3,580 children of Mexican immigrants ages 6–18 who participated in the 2003/4-2017/18 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES). This study is the most comprehensive, nationally representative source of quantitative food dietary data that also includes a large sample of children of Mexican immigrants. We will employ three analytic approaches. OLS regression models will estimate gender differences in the study's food consumption measures and the number of daily meals consumed in different settings (home, restaurants, schools and other locations). Within- between models will then be used to better understand family-level mechanisms producing gender differences in what and where children consume food. To analyze the degree to which differences in where children consume food help to explain gender differences in food consumption, we will utilize structural equation models. This same modeling strategy will also be used to test whether paths in the structural equation models differ by parental acculturation level. The project team's (Frisco, Dondero, and Van Hook) collaborative history, methodological expertise with the NHANES and substantive areas of expertise make them ideally suited to accomplish this study and its aims.
Effective start/end date8/1/217/31/23


  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: $87,691.00


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