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Eur J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2003 Dec;2(4):311-22.

Parental influence on models of primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in children.

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  • 1Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, 3333 California, Suite 265, San Francisco, CA 94143-0936, USA.



Lifestyle behaviors such as overeating and physical inactivity contribute significantly to CVD, the leading cause of morbidity and mortality among adults globally. CVD risk factors that begin in children often track into adulthood. Parents are believed to influence the health behaviors of their children.


To review the literature on parental influence on children's health beliefs and behaviors, particularly eating and exercise behaviors as indicators of CV health, school-based CVD risk reduction programs, and racial/ethnic, gender and socioeconomic considerations for models of primary prevention of CVD in children.


Seventeen studies that included parents as either a source of information, change agent or participant in a CVD risk reduction intervention were identified searching the Medline, CINAHL and PsycINFO databases from 1980 through 2002.


Children's lifestyle health beliefs and behaviors are significantly influenced by positive parental modeling and involvement in exercise and healthy eating; parental influence on children's behavior lasts beyond adolescence; parents are effective teachers of health habits at home when prompted by health educators; and parental influences vary by ethnicity/race, socioeconomics and gender.


A broader base of knowledge that is socioculturally sensitive must be developed about what parents and children believe is healthy, how parents model beliefs and behaviors for their children, and how to build self-efficacy for positive health behaviors.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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