Material Hardship and Internal Locus of Control Over the Prevention of Child Obesity in Low-Income Hispanic Pregnant Women

Published:February 06, 2016DOI:



      To determine the relations between household material hardships and having a low internal locus of control over the prevention of child obesity in low-income Hispanic pregnant women.


      We performed a cross-sectional analysis of baseline data collected during a third trimester prenatal visit from women participating in the Starting Early Study, a randomized controlled trial to test the efficacy of a primary care-based family-centered early child obesity prevention intervention. Using multiple logistic regression analyses, we determined whether 4 domains of material hardship (food insecurity, difficulty paying bills, housing disrepair, neighborhood stress), considered individually and also cumulatively, were associated with having a low internal locus of control over the prevention of child obesity.


      The sample included 559 low-income Hispanic pregnant women, with 60% having experienced at least 1 hardship. Food insecurity was independently associated with a low internal locus of control over the prevention of child obesity (adjusted odds ratio, 2.38; 95% confidence interval, 1.50–3.77), controlling for other hardships and confounders. Experiencing a greater number of material hardships was associated in a dose-dependent relationship with an increased odds of having a low internal locus of control.


      Prenatal material hardships, in particular food insecurity, were associated with having a lower prenatal internal locus of control over the prevention of child obesity. Longitudinal follow-up of this cohort is needed to determine how relations between material hardships and having a low internal locus of control will ultimately affect infant feeding practices and child weight trajectories.


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