Maternal correlates of body mass index in American Indian/Alaska Native and White adolescents: Differences between mother/son and mother/daughter pairs

Anna Zamora-Kapoor, Lonnie Nelson, Dedra Buchwald
Eating Behaviors 2016, 20: 43-7

INTRODUCTION: Obesity rates for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) adolescents are among the highest in the US. However, little is known about the influence of maternal correlates on adolescent body mass index (BMI), and the extent to which the size and significance of these correlates vary by adolescent sex and race.

METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional analysis with a sample of 531 AI/AN and 8896 White mother/adolescent pairs from Wave 1 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. We used generalized estimating equations to measure the association of maternal educational attainment, marital status, employment status, obesity status, and adolescent BMI of AI/AN and White adolescents, while controlling for adolescents' demographic and behavioral covariates. We sought to determine whether the size and statistical significance of maternal correlates differed by race, and between mother/son and mother/daughter pairs.

RESULTS: The strength and statistical significance of maternal correlates varied between mother/son and mother/daughter pairs in both races. However, we did not find effect modification by race. Maternal obesity showed the strongest effect on adolescent BMI in all mother/adolescent pairs.

CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that maternal factors are critical in the transmission of obesogenic behaviors from one generation to the next, and their effects vary between mother/son and mother/daughter pairs, and are similar for AI/ANs and Whites. We encourage future work aimed at preventing adolescent obesity to investigate causal pathways between maternal correlates and adolescent BMI.

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