Obesity and Academic Outcomes Among Hispanic/Latino Adolescents: An Analysis of the National Survey of Children’s Health

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Over the last thirty years in the United States, obesity rates among children ages 2 to 19 have doubled, with even higher rates among ethnic minorities. The purpose of this study is to determine if school-related disciplinary problems, repeating grades, free or reduced school meals, and parent/caregiver engagement were significantly associated with overweight or obesity among the Hispanic/Latino children population. This study used 553 Hispanic/Latino female and male children aged 17 and below from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) dataset. A chi square test of independence was used to determine the effect size of any established association between the dependent variables and overweight and obesity. This study does not entirely concur with the findings of previous studies, which state that a child’s overweight status is associated with poorer educational outcomes, such as school reported problems, repeated grades, and little to no parent/caregiver engagement. However, the current study presented an established association between Hispanic/Latino children who receive free or reduced school meals and overweight or obesity. Because of this finding, there is a clear need to restructure the National School Lunch Plan (NSLP). It is suggested for this population that future studies review other ethnicities to determine similarities and differences. Information from this study is beneficial for improving academic outcomes among Hispanic/Latino children.
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Public Health
Public Health, Health Education