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Is There a Relationship Between Dietary Intake, Food Preferences, and BMI in Obese, Hispanic Toddlers? A. Popejoy , N. DiMarco , E. Andersson , C. Huettig , C. Sanborn TWU Institute for Women’s Health, Denton, Texas. Abstract. Purpose. Results. Discussion.

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Is There a Relationship Between Dietary Intake, Food Preferences, and BMI in Obese, Hispanic Toddlers?A. Popejoy, N. DiMarco, E. Andersson, C. Huettig, C. Sanborn

TWU Institute for Women’s Health, Denton, Texas





The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between body mass index (BMI), dietary intake, and parent’s report of children’s food preferences in at-risk, obese Hispanic toddlers. Dietary intake and food preferences of 67 obese (BMI > percentile) Hispanic toddlers ages 13 to 60 months were analyzed to determine if correlations existed between dietary habits and BMI. No correlations were found between BMI and dietary intake or between BMI and fat content of children’s food preferences. A significant (p < 0.05) negative correlation (r = - .29) was found to exist between the number of visits with a WIC dietitian and percent of total calories from fat. Foods regularly consumed and common favorite foods of at-risk, obese Hispanic toddlers were identified.

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between BMI, parent’s report of children’s food preferences, and food intake of obese Hispanic toddlers. Determining the specific nutritional factors and feeding practices that influence obesity will assist nutrition educators in developing nutrition recommendations that promote the proper growth of children while protecting their health.

Mean Daily Macronutrient Values from Diet Histories* of Obese, At-Risk Hispanic Toddlers (n = 67)

  • The present study found no significant relationship between toddlers’ dietary intake and BMI.
  • The dietary intake patterns in this study were relatively consistent with intakes of toddlers and adolescents in other studies.
  • The participants in this study had an average calorie intake of 81.5 kcal/kg. The recommended intake for this age group is 90-102 kcal/kg indicating underreporting of dietary intake.
  • The more times participants visit with the WIC dietitian, the lower their percent of calories from fat.


  • An estimated one in four children in the United States is overweight, while 11% are obese.
  • Childhood obesity has been associated with numerous adverse health outcomes including diabetes, heart disease, respiratory problems, and cancer
  • The current obesity epidemic likely has many causes, however, decreased physical activity and changes in dietary intake are recognized as common risk factors.
  • Obesity disproportionately affects minority groups and low-income individuals.
  • The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides free nutrition education and supplemental nutrition packages to low-income families.
  • Even though obesity is becoming a widespread epidemic among low-income children, assistance programs at WIC are currently not designed to appropriately address the obesity epidemic.

* One-day food histories obtained from participants’ WIC files. Diet analysis performed on Nutritionist Five software (First DataBank, Inc., San Bruno, CA).

a USDA Food and Nutrition Information Center. (2003). Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) and Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) from

b No data (ND)


  • Participants (n = 67)
  • Obese Hispanic toddlers ages 12 to 60 months (BMI > 90th percentile)
  • Measurements
  • Body Mass Index (BMI = kg/m2)
  • Diet history from WIC dietitian notes
  • Report of food preferences obtained during parent interviews
  • Analysis
  • Descriptive statistics, including means with standard deviations
  • Pearson Product Moment Coefficient of Correlation used to test the relationship between participant’s dietary intake from the diet history and BMI and the strength of the relationship between participant’s average fat score from food preferences and BMI
  • Statistical significance set at p < 0.05


  • There is no significant relationship between the dietary intake of obese Hispanic toddlers and body mass index (BMI).
  • Hispanic obese toddlers have percent fat intakes (32%) greater than the recommended intake of less than 30% of total calories.
  • Hispanic obese toddlers have saturated fat intakes (13%) greater than the recommended intake of less than 10% of total calories.
  • There is a significant negative relationship between a child’s percent fat intake and the number of family visits with WIC High-Risk dietitians.
  • Breakfast cereal, beans, tortillas, whole milk, ground beef, fruit juice, and chicken drumsticks are foods commonly eaten by Hispanic toddlers.
  • Fruit, milk, chicken, and soups are common favorite foods of Hispanic toddlers.
  • Pearson Product Moment Coefficient of Correlations
  • BMI and % of total calories from fat: r = -.028
  • BMI and % of total calories from carbohydrate: r= -.014
  • BMI and % of total calories from protein: r = .071
  • BMI and Fat Score: r = .225
  • Visits with the WIC dietitian and % of total calories
  • *Significant at the 0.05 level, 2-tailed