Loyola University Chicago

Department of Psychology


Dorothy McLeod Loren

Training Track: Clinical
Lab: Activity Matters Lab  
Advisor: Amy Bohnert, Ph.D. 
Office: Coffey Hall 208
Webpage: LinkedIn


Cultural context of childhood obesity, obesity prevention interventions

Masters Thesis Title

Measures of Acculturation and Relations to Weight among Mexican-Origin Youth

Masters Thesis Abstract

Risk for obesity increases dramatically for Mexican-origin immigrants and their children among upon arrival in the United States. Many studies have shown that acculturative factors play a role in this process for adults, which suggests that this could also be the case for children and adolescents. The significance and directionality of this relation may differ based on many factors, including the multitude of methods currently used for the purpose of measuring acculturation. This study examines the relations between several measures of acculturation and child weight in a sample of 6 to 11 year old, Mexican-origin youth, cross-sectionally and longitudinally over the course of 18 months. Results indicated that two measures, greater preference for English and higher Anglo Orientation, were associated cross-sectionally with higher zBMI. Only one of these measures, English language preference, remained significant in predicting BMI in longitudinal analyses. Neither age nor gender was a significant moderator of the relation between acculturation and child weight. These findings support the theoretical hypothesis that cultural changes, such as the gradual and familial adoption of a high-calorie and low-physical activity lifestyle, may contribute to weight gain among Mexican children. 

Masters Thesis Committee

Amy Bohnert, PhD; Catherine DeCarlo Santiago, PhD