Perceptions of Body Size and Desire to Be Thinner among Hispanice Mother-Daughter Dyads

Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

Background: Overweight/obesity is a major health problem among children and adolescents in the United States. Hispanic girls are more likely to be overweight compared to their Caucasian counterparts, with 26% Hispanic girls versus 14% Caucasian girls being classified as overweight (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDCP], 2018). Among adolescents, an association between obesity and body size disturbances has been identified (Evans et al., 2013). Maternal attitudes about their own body size and that of their daughters may play an important role in the development of daughters’ body image (Duchin et al., 2016). Yet, few studies have investigated the relationship between Hispanic mothers perceived-ideal body size including the moderation effect of maternal acculturation. Purpose: This study aimed to assess: 1) comparisons between Hispanic mothers’ and daughters’ perceived and ideal body size; 2) comparisons between Hispanic mothers’ desire to be thinner for themselves, mothers’ desire for their daughters to be thinner, and daughters’ self-desire to be thinner; and 3) assess the moderation role of acculturation in predicting daughters’ desire to be thinner. The following hypotheses were proposed: 1) Hispanic daughters will endorse smaller figure sizes as ideal compared to their mother’s selection of ideal figures for their daughters; 2) Hispanic daughters’ desire to be thinner will be positively associated with maternal desire to be thinner; 3) Hispanic daughters acculturation will moderate the association between maternal acculturation and daughters’ desire to be thinner; 4) Hispanic maternal acculturation will be moderating the association between daughters’ acculturation and daughter’s desire to be thinner. Method: The sample consisted of archival data collected at baseline from different cohorts of Hispanic mother-daughter pairs (N=112 pairs) who participated in a healthy lifestyle summer intervention known as BOUNCE (Behavior Opportunities Uniting Nutrition, Counseling, and Exercise). Data collection occurred during the summers of 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2017. Analysis consisted of a paired samples t-test to assess the relationship between mother’s and daughter’s ideal views on body size. A Pearson’s correlation analysis was conducted to test whether or not there was a significant relationship between mothers and daughters desire to be thinner. Finally, a blocked logistic regression analysis with moderation was conducted to assess the relationship between acculturation and mother and daughters desire to be thinner. Results: A paired samples t-test revealed that daughters selected a significantly smaller ideal body size figure than their mothers selected for their daughters t (111) =3.81, p=.000. No significant relationship between daughters desire to be thinner and mother’s desire to be thinner for their daughters was found r(111)=-0.047, p=.62. Though daughter’s acculturation was found not to be a significant predictor of daughter’s desire to be thinner, β =-.56, p=.39, daughter’s adiposity (BMI) was associated with the daughter’s desire to be thinner, β =.288, p=.001. Mother’s acculturation was not a significant predictor (β = -.53, p=.251) of the of the daughter’s desire to be thinner. Similarly, a blocked logistic regression determined that mother’s desire to be thinner was not significant β =-.459, p=.296 nor was mother’s acculturation β =.302, p=.649 with daughter’s desire to be thinner. Conclusion: Overall, findings from this study revealed that daughters selected a significantly smaller figure for themselves than their mother’s selected for them. No relationship was observed between acculturation and desire to be thinner.

Acculturation, Hispanic female, Body Image, Body Disturabances