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Abstract

In February 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama revealed her plan to end the childhood obesity epidemic in America. With childhood obesity considered a health crisis, it is crucial to begin serious prevention efforts. Shaping healthy eating habits and the physical activity of children at the preschool age is a great step toward life-long prevention. The U.S. populations most affected by and at-risk for childhood obesity are African Americans and Hispanic Americans. Overweight and obesity rates are also particularly on the rise among preschool children. The purpose of the current study is to examine the relationship between parents’ perception of their child’s weight status, parent feeding style and child body mass index (BMI). A total of 82 primary caregivers of preschool-age children participated in the study. Participants were low-income and primarily African American. Primary caregivers completed surveys that included a demographic questionnaire, caregiver feeding style questionnaire and a parent perception measure. The children’s BMI information was gathered from Head Start’s nutrition coordinator. Results showed that 35% of children in the current sample had a BMI at or above the 85th percentile, which is considered overweight. Results suggest that parents perceive their child’s weight status to be at a healthier level than objective BMI estimates suggest. Parent feeding style was not significantly related to child BMI in the current study.

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