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Parental Behavior, Belief Systems, And Childhood Obesity

1787 words - 7 pages

Childhood obesity does not discriminate, for it affects every ethnicity, age, gender, and economic status. Obesity is a body measurement size that is not within the defined limits of an individual’s height and weight. Unfortunately, “The increased weight places children at risk for chronic disease, diminished quality of life, and poor health outcomes” (Sealy, 1). Research indicates some of the risk factors that may correlate to early childhood obesity are the environment, adult behavior, and energy dense foods. Many studies have shown young children have no control of what foods they consume and depend on their parents or caregivers to provide them with nutritious meals. Learning more about what contributes to obesity is important, the authors McKee, Maher, Deen, and Blank stated, “Currently, national estimates indicate that 36% of the pediatric population is overweight or obese” (McKee, 249). This paper evaluates the studies on parental behavior and belief systems that may contribute to the risk of childhood obesity.
In the research conducted by Croker, Sweetman, and Cooke, they worked to answer whether parent’s knowledge, attitudes, practices, and concerns towards food portion had an impact on childhood obesity (Croker). The focus of the study was to determine if parents were knowledgeable about a healthy diet, weighing foods, and controlling and judging adequate portion sizes. It is hypothesized that access to large portions of energy-dense foods may contribute to obesity and weight gain. The study consisted of a sample group of mothers who agreed to provide their perspectives on their children’s eating habits. The mothers who volunteered in the research had children from 6 to 11 years of age. The parents’ level of education ranged from having Bachelor degrees to leaving school at the age of 16. During the study, participants were asked to weigh foods that parents frequently served, such as cold cereals, cooked chicken, cooked peas, and cheese. Next, the participants were asked a series of questions regarding their views on food portions. The participants spent 90 minutes in their focus groups with two researchers leading the study.
The results of the study support the hypothesis that parent’s knowledge, attitudes, practices, and concerns towards food portion do have an impact on childhood obesity. While the mothers in the study understood what constituted as a healthy meal or snack, they had difficulty assessing how much food to give their children. Furthermore, the parents were reluctant to welcome information on weighing and measuring food because this was something they were not ready to do. They felt plenty of direction and suggestions on how to parent had been provided. Some parents also displayed little interest and concern around portion sizes because they felt overwhelmed with information on feeding their children. Young and Nestle’s (2002) research on expanding portion sizes reported that bigger portion sizes started in 1970. By...

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