Agreement between health care providers and parents about causes and treatments of childhood obesity
Villarreal, Rocio I.
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The present study examined factors that health care (medical and mental) providers and parents attributed to causing pediatric obesity. The study also examined health care providers’ recommendations and parents’ perceived helpfulness of various weight management techniques. Finally, the study evaluated the acceptability of various weight management treatments for a hypothetical overweight child with and without psychosocial problems. A total of 50 medical health care providers, 65 mental health care providers, and 64 parents participated in the study. As hypothesized, health care providers attributed childhood obesity to familial factors more than parents. Contrary to what was hypothesized, parents rated environmental factors as contributing to childhood obesity less than health care providers. No significant differences were found between medical and mental health care providers’ recommendation of specific behavior-only and cognitive-behavioral techniques, and parents did not rate specific behavior-only techniques as more helpful than cognitive-behavioral techniques. When rating the acceptability of overall treatments, as hypothesized, medical providers and parents rated behavior-only treatments as more acceptable than cognitive-behavioral treatments. Also as hypothesized, mental health providers rated the cognitive-behavioral treatment as more acceptable than the cognitive-only treatment for the overweight-only child, but no support was found for the hypothesis that mental health providers would rate the cognitive-behavioral treatment as more acceptable than the behavior-only treatment for the overweight child with psychosocial problems. Findings provide support for the acceptability of behavioral treatments for childhood obesity and offer useful information that may improve treatment adherence and aid in the selection of treatment goals and procedures for obesity interventions with children and families. Theoretical, methodological, and clinical implications along with suggestions for future research are also discussed.