Beliefs About Body Weight and Practices of Regulating Food and Physical Exercise Patterns of Children Among Parents in Southern Ethiopia

Psychol Res Behav Manag. 2022 Jul 27;15:1871-1883. doi: 10.2147/PRBM.S366132. eCollection 2022.


Background: The problem of childhood obesity is often associated with cultural values of body weight which includes the belief that voluptuous body size is a sign of good health status and better parental care. We examined the beliefs and behaviors of parents pertaining to preferred body weight of children, including practices of management of feeding and physical exercise patterns of children in southern Ethiopia.

Methods: Using cross-sectional survey study design, a structured questionnaire was distributed to randomly selected parents. Quantitative data were collected from 215 respondents, inserted into SPSS software, and analyzed by frequency and percentage distributions, charts, and multinomial logistic regression techniques.

Results: Most (59.1%) respondents want their child's body weight to be normal/neither fat nor thin. In addition, 58.2% of the study participants held the opinion that average body size is an indication of good health status. Furthermore, 72.6% of respondents revealed that they control the amount of food their child consumes with the aim of preventing obesity/overweight. Moreover, 79.5% of respondents encourage their children to sometimes walk on foot, instead of always relying on vehicles while 87% of them replied that they regulate the amount of time their children spend watching TV. Above all, parents' preference of voluptuous body size of children is significantly associated with age (OR=61.52.448, P < 0.001, 95%C.I: 57-66.14), educational status (OR = 35.605, P < 0.001; 95%C.I: 6.050-209.524), sex (OR = 0.237, P < 0.05; 95%C.I: 0.078-0.724) and grownup area (OR = 2.869, P < 0.05; 95%C.I: 1.062-7.749).

Conclusion: Parents not only have adequate level of awareness regarding the health risks of children's heavy body weight but also engage in the body weight management practices of their children such as by regulating the food consumption patterns of children, encouraging them to undertake physical exercises, and by being role models while doing physical exercises for themselves.

Keywords: body weight; childhood obesity; food consumption; physical exercise; regulation.