Date of Conferral





Public Health


Peter B. Anderson


Childhood obesity rates among Mexican Americans have risen along with the concerns of public health professionals. The purpose of this cross-sectional study, based on social cognitive theory, was to investigate the relationships among parental self-efficacy, parental feeding practices and styles, and childhood obesity, as measured by the parental perception of child weight, among Mexican Americans in Texas. Mothers and fathers (n=83; 33 males, 64 females), with at least 1 child between 8 and10 years, formed the sample. Relationships were assessed using the Tool to Measure Parenting Self-Efficacy questionnaire, the Parental Feeding Practices Questionnaire for Mexican American parents, the Parenting Dimensions Inventory – Short Version, and a figure rating scale of child’s weight. Data were collected through SurveyMonkey and analyzed by gender using linear regression. Feeding styles of reasoning [β = -.065, 95% C.I. (-.124, -.007), p < .05] and greater parental control [β = -.158, 95% C.I. (-.294, -.023), p < .05] decreased parents’ perceptions of their male child’s weight; feeding styles of letting situations go [β = .049, 95% C.I. (.005, .093), p < .05] increased parents’ perceptions of their male child’s weight. Feeding practice of the use of food to control behavior [β= .029, 95% C.I. (.009, .049), p < .05] and restriction of food [β= .041, 95% C.I. (.016, .065), p < .05] increased parents’ perception of their male child’s weight. There were no significant results for female children or parental self-efficacy. This study has implications for positive social change: changes in feeding practices and styles for Mexican American parents could improve the effectiveness of obesity interventions for PH staff and thus decrease morbidity and mortality among Mexican American children, especially boys in Texas.