Latino Parents' Perceptions of Pediatric Weight Counseling Terms

Shanna Doucette Knierim, Sophia Newcomer, Alyssa Castillo, Alanna Kulchak Rahm, Silvia Raghunath, Christina Clarke, Leslie Wright, Matthew Haemer, Simon J. Hambidge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: Little is known about Latino parents' perceptions of weight-related language in English or Spanish, particularly for counseling obese youth. We sought to identify English and Spanish weight counseling terms perceived by Latino parents across demographic groups as desirable for providers to use, motivating, and inoffensive. Methods: Latino parents of children treated at urban safety-net clinics completed surveys in English or Spanish. Parents rated the desirable, motivating, or offensive properties of terms for excess weight using a 5-point scale. We compared parental ratings of terms and investigated the association of parent and child characteristics with parent perceptions of terms. Results: A total of 525 surveys met inclusion criteria (255 English, 270 Spanish). English survey respondents rated “unhealthy weight” and “too much weight for his/her health” the most motivating and among the most desirable and least offensive terms. Spanish survey respondents found “demasiado peso para su salud” highly desirable, highly motivating, and inoffensive, and respondents valued its connection to the child's health. Commonly used clinical terms “overweight”/“sobrepeso” and “high BMI [body mass index]”/“índice de masa corporal alta” were not as desirable or as motivating. “Chubby,” “fat,” “gordo,” and “muy gordo” were the least motivating and most offensive terms. Parents' ratings of commonly used clinical terms varied widely across demographic groups, but more desirable terms had less variability. Conclusions: “Unhealthy weight,” “too much weight for his/her health,” and its Spanish equivalent, “demasiado peso para su salud,” were the most desirable and motivating, and the least offensive terms. Latino parents' positive perceptions of these terms occurred across parent and child characteristics, supporting their use in weight counseling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-353
Number of pages12
JournalAcademic Pediatrics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Hispanic Americans
  • Latino/Latina
  • Spanish
  • pediatric obesity
  • terms
  • weight counseling


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