Family characteristics have limited ability to predict weight status of young children

J Am Diet Assoc. 2007 Jul;107(7):1204-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2007.04.004.


The ability of (a) family characteristics (marital status, income, race, and education), (b) parental control over child's food intake, and (c) parental belief in causes of overweight to predict weight status of children was assessed. Parents/caretakers of elementary school-aged children were surveyed to determine attitudes related to childhood nutrition and overweight. Anthropometric measurements were obtained from children to determine weight status (n=169 matched surveys and measurements). chi(2) tests and nested logistic regression models were used to determine relationships between children's weight status and family characteristics, parental control, and parental belief in the primary cause of overweight. Low household income was an important predictor of overweight; marital status and race added no further explanatory power to the model. Parental control was not a significant predictor of overweight. Parental belief in the primary cause of overweight in children (diet vs physical activity) was significantly related to children's weight; however, it was not significant after controlling for income. Low household income relates strongly to increased childhood weight status; therefore, school and government policies should promote an environment that supports affordable, safe, and feasible opportunities for healthful nutrition and physical activity, particularly for low-income audiences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Child Nutrition Sciences / education
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Educational Status
  • Energy Intake
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Family Characteristics*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Parenting / psychology
  • Parents / education*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Poverty*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Social Environment