Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 73–89 | Cite as

Environmental, Personal, and Behavioral Influences on BMI and Acculturation of Second Generation Hmong Children

  • Lisa Franzen-Castle
  • Chery SmithEmail author


This project investigated influences (environmental, personal, and behavioral) on body mass index (BMI) and acculturation of Hmong children born in the United States (US) using the social cognitive theory as the theoretical framework. Using formative information from 12 child focus groups (n = 68) and a review of the literature, a quantitative survey was developed and administered to Hmong children (n = 300) ≥ 9 ≤ 18 years-old. Heights, weights, and acculturation level were measured. B-US1 were raised in the US and 9–13 years-old (n = 144) and B-US2 were raised in the US and 14–18 years-old (n = 156). Approximately 50 % of children were classified as overweight/obese (BMI ≥ 85th percentile). Across age and gender sub-groups, questions from the environmental construct appeared to be the most predictive of variances in BMI percentiles (50–60 %). In contrast, acculturation scores were equally predicted by environmental, behavioral, and personal constructs for age and gender sub-groups. Sum acculturation score was significantly higher for B-US2 compared to B-US1, with B-US2 being more acculturated in language use and thought, overall dietary acculturation, and foods eaten at lunch. The high prevalence of obesity in Hmong children suggests that future studies investigate factors influencing obesity to identify the most effective method to reduce/prevent this problem. In particular, acculturation level of the child should be assessed to determine changed dietary behavior and possible risk for obesity.


Hmong children Social cognitive theory BMI Acculturation 



We would like to thank the Hmong youth for volunteering to participate in this survey and their parents for allowing them to do so. We would also like to express our appreciation for the leaders and organizers at the local youth groups, churches, and schools who aided in recruitment and provided space for us to conduct the survey. We would also like to thank Urvashi Mulasi-Pokhriyal for her assistance in data collection and entry. This project was funded by the Agriculture Experiment Station of the University of Minnesota.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Panhandle Research and Extension CenterUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnScottsbluffUSA
  2. 2.Department of Food Science and NutritionUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA

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