240942 Mental Health Barriers to Low-income Parents' Success at Preventing Childhood Obesity

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Elizabeth Lloyd McGarvey, EdD , Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Courtney Chu, BA , MPH Program Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, VA
Brian Long, BA , MPH Program Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, VA
Kelsie Kelly, BS , MPH Program Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, VA
Background: The literature is mixed on the relationship between maternal mental health problems (e.g. depression), social constructs and associated childhood obesity. Mental health problems in parents and social environments may be barriers to their effective participation in prevention efforts. It is critical that mental health problems in parents be considered and addressed to most effectively promote healthy communities.

Objective: This study examines the relationship between parents' mental health status and social support and their 2-4 year old child's current BMI, current behaviors related to preventing childhood obesity, perceptions of their child's risk of becoming overweight, perceived self-efficacy to prevent obesity in their child, and satisfaction with WIC services.

Methods: IRB approval was obtained. Statistical analyses were conducted using blind-coded data from 336 parents who participated in a WIC pre-school childhood obesity prevention program. The assessment tool included items to evaluate the effectiveness of the program and valid, reliable measures of psychopathology, self-efficacy, social support, and client satisfaction with service delivery. Parents with scores in the clinical range (“evidence of mental health problems”) were compared to those in the non-clinical range, “normal group”.

Results: Parents in the non-clinical “normal” group compared to those in the “clinical group” were significantly different on pre-school child's current BMI, depression symptoms, social support, self-efficacy items, and certain activities related to preventing childhood obesity.

Conclusion: This study suggests that parents' mental health problems may be a barrier to promoting healthy communities related to child overweight and risk of chronic diseases and suggests the need for interventions.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain how parents' mental disorders may be barriers to promoting child healthy weight. 2. Compare the differences between parents in the clinical vs. non-clinical ("normal") groups related to preventing childhood obesity. 3. Discuss how community-based organizations might link low-income parents to mental health resources fo facilitate healthy communities.

Keywords: Mental Health, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an Associate Professor of Public Health Science teaching in the MPH program in the UVA School of Medicine. I have over 15 years experience working with the state and local health, social service and mental health agencies on public health programs, evaluation and research. I have over 30 publications in peer reviewed journals...
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.