Office of Epidemiology and Research, Division of Research

Advancing Applied MCH Research

(SDAS) Obesity among US children with foreign born mothers

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Project Number: R40 MC 08951-01
Grantee: Johns Hopkins University
Department/Center: Population, Family & Reproductive Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health
Project Date: 2/1/2008

Final Report

(SDAS) Obesity among US children with foreign born mothers Final Report (PDF) Exit Disclaimer

Principal Investigator

Cynthia Schaffer Minkovitz, MD
Associate Professor
615 N. Wolfe Street RM # E4634
Baltimore, MD  21205
Phone: (410) 614-5106


  • Perinatal/Infancy (0-12 months)
  • Toddlerhood (13-35 months)
  • Early Childhood (3-5 years)


The growing prevalence and persistent disparities in childhood obesity, even among preschool children, have led to national recognition of the need to better understand the factors that contribute to overweight and obesity among high risk populations. These disparities are particularly concerning given recent demographic shifts and the growing proportion of foreign born children in the US. For young children, little is known about whether dietary habits, physical activity, and family characteristics contribute to overweight. This gap is important for designing appropriate interventions and for promoting healthy lifestyles for all children. The aims of the proposed study are to examine: 1) factors associated with overweight among children at 9 months, 2 years, and 4 years of age; and 2) whether risk factors for overweight vary by maternal duration in the US among children with foreign born mothers. This study investigates relations among feeding practices, physical activity, maternal duration in the US, and overweight in the first 4 years of life. Data are from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) that follows a nationally representative cohort of 10,688 children born in 2001. ECLS-B data include length/height and weight, physical and sedentary activities, and maternal report of feeding practices. Birth certificates provide data about maternal and birth characteristics. The goal of the proposed study is to assess whether factors associated with overweight vary in the first 4 years of life. Regression models will be constructed conditioned on maternal and child characteristics to evaluate the relation of feeding practices, physical activities, and duration of US residence with weight-for-length and body mass index. Models will consider the interactions of child race and ethnicity with selected independent variables and use of repeated measures based on serial growth measures at 9 months and 2 and 4 years. The proposed study addresses an MCHB goal to eliminate health barriers and disparities and supports Strategic Research Issue IV (healthy development of MCH populations). This study also addresses the Healthy People 2010 leading health indicator regarding overweight/obesity and physical activity.


Listed is descending order by year published.

Li N, Strobino D, Ahmed S, Minkovitz CS. Is there a healthy foreign born effect for childhood obesity in the United States? Matern Child Health J. 2011 Apr;15(3):310-23.


Physical Activity, Obesity & Weight, Nutrition & Diet, Parenting, Immigrant Populations, Health Disparities

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