Child Weight and Feeding Patterns in an Old Order Mennonite Community

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Purpose: Feeding practices in some religious communities may decrease childhood obesity. However, there is limited research in these communities to assess maternal perceptions of their children's weight and feeding patterns. The purpose of this study was to ascertain Old Order Mennonite mothers' perceptions of their children's body weight and to examine feeding patterns for their children. Sample: Participants for this descriptive, correlational study were recruited from an Old Order Mennonite community in south central Kentucky. Sampling was achieved using a snowball sampling strategy and the use of a community insider. Methods: Body Mass Index was measured for mothers and child participants, and mothers completed four questionnaires. Fourteen families with 65 children participated. Findings: Fifteen children (23.1%) had BMIs > 85%, and weight was underestimated in 24.6% of children. Breastfeeding was common (98.5%), with a mean age for cessation of 17.3 months. Mean age for introduction of solid foods was eight months. Results from the CFQ demonstrated mothers were neutral about obesity risk in their child (X=3.05). Mothers reported concerns about high sugar foods, limiting access to unhealthy foods, and children eating all food served at meals. Maternal health literacy scores (X=33.98) were comparable to scores found in other studies. A lower PSOC score (X=23.36) was found. Conclusions: Further study needs to be conducted in this community to ascertain specific feeding habits that may account for increased BMIs.



Hoover (Scottsville) Mennonites, Child body weight, Perceptions, Feeding patterns


Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies v. 2, no. 2 (2014), p. 203-214.