Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Suzanne Ameringer


Background: An estimated 9.7% of U.S. infants and toddlers are considered overweight. Hispanic infants persistently show higher prevalence rates for being overweight compared to black and white infants. Little is known about factors promoting excessive infant weight gain in Latinos. Purpose: Primary aim of this study was to describe multidimensional factors and maternal feeding practices that may correlate with infant overfeeding in Latina mothers. A secondary aim was to determine whether there was an association between these factors and infant weight gain. Subjects: Sixty-two low-income immigrant Latina mothers and their infants ages 4-12 months receiving assistance through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Design: A descriptive correlational cross-sectional study. Methods: A native Spanish-speaking investigator who guided the participants through the options administered all the measures. Measures included: acculturation indicators; maternal feeding beliefs; maternal feeding practices; maternal knowledge and self-efficacy; food availability/insecurity indicators; infant’s temperament; infant’s 24-hour dietary recall; and infant’s height and weight measures. Univariate and multiple linear regressions were used to examine relationships. Results: Over 25% of infants were at >85th percentile for weight-for-length, and 21% were at > 98th percentile. Among infants at the >85th percentile for weight-for-length, 27% of the mothers wished their infants were heavier. Three-quarters of the participants were not currently breastfeeding their infants (74.2%). Healthier maternal feeding practices were inversely correlated with maternal age and the number of people living at home. Multiple regression results showed infant’s age and maternal education as significant positive predictors of less controlling maternal feeding practices. None of the analyzed factors were significant predictors of infant’s weight gain. Conclusion: Future research is needed to further delineate the primary driving forces behind immigrant Latina mothers’ feeding decisions and practices. Given the protective benefit of breastfeeding in reducing the risk of early childhood and adult obesity, present intervention efforts should focus primarily on the promotion of healthy feeding practices that encourage and support exclusive breastfeeding among this ethnic group.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2014

Included in

Nursing Commons