Controlled Study of Critical Parent and Family Factors in the Obesigenic Environment
Article first published online: 6 SEP 2012
2007 North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO)
Volume 15, Issue 1, page 126, January 2007
How to Cite
Zeller, M. H., Reiter-Purtill, J., Modi, A. C., Gutzwiller, J., Vannatta, K. and Davies, W. H. (2007), Controlled Study of Critical Parent and Family Factors in the Obesigenic Environment. Obesity, 15: 126. doi: 10.1038/oby.2007.517
- Issue published online: 6 SEP 2012
- Article first published online: 6 SEP 2012
- Received for review May 02, 2006, Accepted in final from August 03, 2006
Objective: Critical gaps remain in our understanding of the obesigenic family environment. This study examines parent and family characteristics among obese youth presenting for treatment in a clinic setting.
Research Methods and Procedures: Families of 78 obese youth (BMI z-score = 2.4; age, 8 to 16 years; 59% girls; 49% African-American) were compared with 71 non-overweight (BMI z-score = −0.02) demographically matched comparisons. Parents completed measures assessing family demographics, psychological distress (Symptom Checklist 90-Revised), and family functioning both broadly (Family Environment Scale: Conflicted, Support, Control) and at mealtimes (About Your Child's Eating-Revised: Mealtime Challenges, Positive Mealtime Interaction). Height and weight were obtained from all participants.
Results: Compared with mothers and fathers of non-overweight youth, parents of obese youth had significantly higher BMIs (p < 0.001). Mothers of obese youth reported significantly greater psychological distress (p < 0.01), higher family conflict (p < 0.05), and more mealtime challenges (p < 0.01). Less positive family mealtime interactions were reported by both mothers (p < 0.01) and fathers (p < 0.05) of obese youth. These group differences did not vary by child sex or race. Logistic regression analyses indicated that maternal distress and mealtime challenges discriminated between obese and non-overweight youth after controlling for maternal BMI. Family conflict was explained, in part, by maternal distress.
Discussion: Obese youth who present for treatment in a clinic setting are characterized by psychosocial factors at the parent and family level that differ from non-overweight youth. These data are critical because they identify factors that may be serving as barriers to a family's or youth's ability to implement healthy lifestyle behaviors but that are potentially modifiable.