Although the rates of childhood obesity are disproportionately higher in children of racial and ethnic minorities, research rarely addresses possible cultural factors. The purpose of this study was to discover cultural influences that contribute to or prevent childhood obesity from the perspectives of Burmese-American children and adolescents of Karen ethnicity in the southeast U.S.
The ethnonursing research method was used to seek perspectives of healthy weight care from Karen children between 8 and 15 years-of-age (n = 10). Karen parents (n = 5) and non-Karen community members (n = 13) were also interviewed. Data sources – interviews, fieldnotes, and observation notes – were analyzed using the four phases of the ethnonursing method.
Four themes important to healthy weight care in Karen children were discovered: views of a healthy child, food and food preparation, physical activity, and mutual support among family and community. These themes revealed both Karen and non-Karen influences.
Most Karen cultural influences promote healthy weight care in Karen children and adolescents which may protect them from childhood obesity. Lack of after-school transportation, limited space to play/exercise, and the sedentary tendencies of girls could limit healthy weight care.
Pediatric nurses may use knowledge gained from this study for promotion of healthy weight care in Karen families and to advocate for community changes which could benefit all children.

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