Causes of Child Obesity and Role of Parents in Prevention

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The principal goal of this study is to investigate the primary causes of children being overweight and obese in families with young children and parents’ attitudes and knowledge in preventing this from happening. Obesity is starting to reach epidemic proportions in the United States, and this could have catastrophic effects for our future generation’s health and also how much of a burden this could be on society as a whole. Parents are the first line of defense in this issue and their attitude and knowledge on a healthy lifestyle for their children and themselves is very important.

The research was conducted, and results show cause for worry. It was performed in the Southwestern United States around preschools and Head Start Centers. Total of 205 parents and primary caregivers participated with their main focus being one child in the family between ages three and ten. Caregivers ages ranged from nineteen to sixty-nine and of that most of them were mothers, 8% were fathers, and 5% were other family members. 54% of parents were married, their education varied anywhere from not having a high school diploma to having a doctoral degree, and 80% had a yearly income under $40000.

A large number of participants was not willing to indicate their race, but of the ones that did, 49% were Hispanic, and White and Black population were equally represented at 8%. The questionnaire consisted of 178 questions and they were given an option of filling it out on paper or online. As a thank you participants were offered $10 gift cards. Data was collected over three months. Results show that out of 172 children 40% were overweight or even obese and 30% were at a healthy weight. Majority of parents of children with healthy weight assumed correctly that their child’s weight is where it should be.

However, all parents of overweight children and a staggering 75% of parents with obese children, assumed their children are also at a healthy weight. One of the most significant issues could be that only 6% of overweight and obese children were diagnosed as such by their doctor. Another aspect might be that 40% of parents gave unclear answers on what they think healthy diet consist of, 43% said “eating more fruits and vegetables,” and the majority did not know correct portion sizes. In addition, a large number of parents are either unaware of what constitutes as physical activity or are unaware of the amount of exercise their child should get, or both.

Furthermore, lack of knowledge of possible consequences was apparent. Some listed diabetes and heart problems but failed to mention any other potential health issues. Almost 25% did not see this issue as a burden to society, but rather as an individual problem. In reality, obesity-related medical care cost is over $200 billion in the United States. Most often mentioned difficulties in selecting healthy meal over unhealthy fast food were time constraints of parent’s busy schedule and perceived higher costs of a healthier meal. Going forward, caregivers said they are in favor of programs such as adding health lessons to school curriculum and building more recreational facilities.

It is interesting that a large number of participants stated that they believe parents are responsible for their children’s diets and amount of physical activity these children get on a daily basis but were only supporting programs that would be at no additional cost to them. In summary, it is essential that we try and find a way to implement programs that would help this pressing issue. Being that parents rely heavily on pediatrician’s advice this could be a significant area of improvement. Also, educating parents on healthy portions and healthier lifestyle would be of great benefit, not only to their families but society as a whole. The clock is ticking, and younger generations health is on the line.


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Causes of Child Obesity and Role of Parents in Prevention. (2021, Apr 19). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/causes-of-child-obesity-and-role-of-parents-in-prevention/

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