Differences in stature, BMI, and dietary practices between US born and newly immigrated Hmong children

Lisa Franzen, Chery Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations


This study investigated how acculturation influences diet, cultural practices related to cooking and food preparation knowledge, and stature and body mass index (BMI) of Hmong children. Focus groups (n = 12) were conducted during the spring of 2008 in St. Paul/Minneapolis, Minnesota with those born in the US and 9-13 years old (n = 22), those born in the US and 14-18 years old (n = 25), and those born in Thailand or Laos, who had lived in the US ≤ 5 years, and 14-18 years old (n = 21). Respondents also completed a survey instrument to assess acculturation level which was evaluated by questions about social connections, language use, and dietary habits. Compared to those born in the US, those born in Thailand or Laos were significantly shorter and leaner. Those born in the US also showed elevated acculturation levels in language use, social connections, and gender-oriented tasks compared to those born in Thailand or Laos. Themes from focus group discussions were mealtime patterns, determinants of food health, future health concerns, and changing cultural traditions. Acculturation, years lived in the US, and birth place may play an important role in stature and BMI, food and physical activity habits, cooking and food preparation knowledge, and perceptions of health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)442-450
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2009



  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Dietary acculturation
  • Health perceptions
  • Hmong children
  • Immigration
  • Stature
  • USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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