220261 Parent and Caregiver Knowledge, Behaviors, and Beliefs Regarding Nutrition, and Exercise: Factors that Influence Overweight and Obesity in Children

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 2:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Serge K. Tankeu, MS , Graduate Program in Public Health, Eastern Virginia Medical School/Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA
Kay L. Cherry, MS , Graduate Program in Public Health, Eastern Virginia Medical School - Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA
Yueqin Zhao, MS , Graduate Program in Public Health, Eastern Virginia Medical School - Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA
Background: While childhood overweight and obesity have become epidemic, identifying effective measures for prevention and treatment remains elusive. Children do not acquire weight problems in a vacuum, but as part of a family and cultural unit. It is necessary to work with both children and their parents to prevent and correct weight problems. Parents have substantial influence on the diet and physical activity of their small children, and some influence on teens; however, there are insufficient data available concerning how parents and caregivers might exert effective, positive influence on their children's dietary and exercise habits. Multiple forces impact families in making choices concerning diet and exercise. Across all economic strata, consumption of processed food has increased, as has daily caloric intake. Consumption of fresh food has decreased. Physical exercise has declined for all age groups. Healthcare organizations nationwide seek to check these patterns through multiple interventions, including working with parents and caregivers of children. Healthcare planners need accurate information to implement effective programs to help parents combat the epidemic of childhood weight gain. Purpose: A regional partnership of private and public organizations in Southeastern Virginia has initiated programs to confront childhood obesity by improving nutritional choices and opportunities for exercise. A questionnaire-based study has been initiated to determine the forces that shape parental/caregiver behavior regarding family diet and exercise. The questionnaire includes queries regarding diet and exercise of parents/caregivers and their children; beliefs regarding influence of advertising and family; food costs; and perceptions of weight as it impacts children's health. The study examines the relationships among parent/caregiver knowledge, behaviors and beliefs to determine their roles in the epidemiology of childhood obesity, and to utilize that knowledge in area-wide program planning. Methodology: The study utilizes an anonymous survey administered in multiple community settings to 150 parents and caregivers of children up to age 18. Findings regarding diet, nutrition and exercise, are compared with variables of age, marital status, race/ethnicity, education level, and the number of children in the household. Family income, stratified in brackets of low, medium and high, are a focus of examining availability of healthful foods, and the accessibility of sites suitable for family physical activity.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify beliefs of parents and caregivers that influence the family diet. 2. Describe the impact of family income on the frequency of consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. 3. Evaluate how age and education correlate with parent/caregiver knowledge of the impact of nutrition and exercise upon children’s health. 4. Discuss the complexity of forces that influence parents/caregivers in guiding family diet and physical activity.

Keywords: Obesity, Family Involvement

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a second year MPH student at Eastern Virginia Medical School/Old Dominion University and am engaged in a one-year community practicum devoted to promoting the health of adults and children through improved nutrition and exercise.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.