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Matern Child Health J. 2012 May;16(4):902-8. doi: 10.1007/s10995-011-0813-x.

Exploring the relationship between parental concern and the management of childhood obesity.

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West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA.


Parental concern about child weight has been identified as a factor in parental monitoring and regulation of child diet. However, little is known about factors that influence parental concern or about how concern may influence parent management of child physical activity. The objectives of the current study were to identify the factors associated with parental concern about child weight and determine if parental concern is associated with specific actions to improve diet and increase physical activity. A stratified random sample of 1,500 parents of children in kindergarten, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 7th, and 9th grade were interviewed. Interviews addressed: (a) child and parent physical activity, (b) child and family nutrition, (c) child and parent BMI weight category, (d) interactions with health care providers, (e) parent obesity knowledge, (f) school assessment of BMI, and (g) parent perception of and concern about child weight. Child gender, weight status, and parent perception of child weight were significant predictors of parental concern. Parents were significantly more likely to report concern if their child was female, they believed their child to be overweight/obese, or their child was overweight/obese as indicated by BMI percentile. Concerned parents were significantly more likely to limit child screen time, take steps to improve child diet, and increase child physical activity than were parents who reported no concern. Treatment and prevention efforts should emphasize parental concern and awareness about child weight by providing accurate feedback on child weight status and education regarding the health risks associated with childhood overweight and obesity. Schools can play an important role in this process through the incorporation of BMI screenings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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