Parenting styles and family contributors to the development of obesity in Arab children aged 6-10 years old

Date

2016-08

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Abstract

Overweight and obesity in children have reached epidemic status worldwide across different population groups. Within the home environment, parenting styles and practices are the main determinants of obesity risk in children. To date, no research has been reported on parenting styles/practices and family contributors to the development of obesity in Arab children living in the US. Also, no studies have reported the relationship between Arab mothers’ weight and their children’s weight. To address these gabs, an exploratory mixed-method study including the Caregiver’s Feeding Style Questionnaire (CFSQ) and Family Nutrition Physical Activity (FNPA) surveys and five focus group (FG) discussions, guided by the Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) was conducted. The study objectives were to collect data on parenting feeding styles (CFSQ) of Arab mothers and family contributors (FNPA) to the development of obesity in their children; to collect data on Arab mothers’ challenges and strategies to promoting healthier dietary and physical activity behaviors in their children; to determine the relationship between the Arab mothers’ weight status (BMI) and their children’s weight status (BMI z-scores); to determine the relationship between the child’s weight status (BMI z-scores) and the mother’s parenting feeding style (CFSQ); and to determine the relationship between the child’s weight status (BMI z-scores) and obesogenic/non-obesogenic family environment (FNPA). Twenty-three Arab mothers of 37 children, aged 6-10 years old participant in this study. Most mothers (mean age= 38.43 years) had been in the US more than 15 years and overweight or obese (mean BMI= 28.12). Out of the 37 children, six were overweight or obese (mean BMI percentiles= 64.44%). Although all Arab mothers self-assessed that they were authoritative, only seven mothers were categorized as having authoritative feeding style based on their CFSQ scores. The FNPA overall mean was 3.15, indicating less obesogenic family environment and behaviors. Across FGs, the most common barriers to desirable dietary intake were low vegetable intake and child being distracted by sweets, junk foods, and technology. Common physical activity barriers were lack of time, child being distracted by technology, and culture. All mothers wanted their children to have healthier dietary habits and active lifestyles and used positive and negative approaches to achieve that. Positive approaches related to dietary behaviors included no pressure to eat and providing healthier alternative foods. Negative approaches related to dietary behaviors included pressuring child to eat and rewarding with sweets and technology. As for physical activity behaviors, positive approaches included involvement in physical activity with the child and considering the child’s interest in sports. Negative approaches included pushing the child to do sports and mother’s lack of interest in physical activity. In correlation analyses, the mother’s BMI was significantly correlated with the child’s BMI z-scores (r = .325, p = .005). No significant associations were found between reported feeding styles (CFSQ), obesogenic family environments (FNPA), and child’s BMI z-scores. This study can guide future efforts in assessing parenting style and assessing the home environment regarding dietary and physical activity behaviors of Arab families. These assessments are the first steps to developing effective nutrition education programs for mothers with Arab ancestry.

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Keywords

Parenting Style, Physical Activity, Dietary Behaviors, Parenting Practice, Childhood Obesity, Arab Mother, Feeding Style

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