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Food Nutr Res. 2012;56. doi: 10.3402/fnr.v56i0.17787. Epub 2012 Aug 16.

Predictors of body mass index in female parents whose children participate in a competitive, creative, problem-solving program.

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UT Obesity Research Center, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA.



Recent findings from our research indicate that children participating in a creative afterschool program exhibit overall healthier lifestyle practices compared to the average US pediatric population. This observation led us to investigate the prevalence of overweight/obesity and lifestyle practices of their parents.


To determine the strongest predictors of weight status for female parents whose children were participating in such creative afterschool program.


Surveyed subjects were parents of children who competed in the 2008 and 2009 Destination ImagiNation(®) Global Finals in Knoxville, Tennessee. A total of 4,608 children participated in data collection, with parental consent. For the combined 2 years, 1,118 parents, 87% of whom were females (n=1,032) completed online questionnaires, which were based on the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and included self-reported height, weight, dietary intake, physical activity, and socioeconomic status. The majority of this population was white, and less than 5% were African American or Hispanic.


We report here results obtained for the female parents. Only 45.2% of these female parents were overweight/obese, compared to a national average of 64.1% reported by the National Health Nutrition Examination Surveys for 2007-2008. Furthermore, this population was significantly more physically active compared to national average. Most parents (76%) had completed a college degree and reported high incomes. Parents with the lowest income were the most obese in this population. Finally, we found a significant association between parent and child weight status.


These studies demonstrate that female parents of children who have healthy lifestyles were physically active, which likely accounts for the parents' lower overweight/obesity rates. In addition to physical activity, income and percentage of calories from fat were all predictors of weight status.


BRFSS; diet; health behaviors; obesity; overweight; parents; physical activity

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