Date of Award

12-1-2010

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Health Education

First Advisor

Welshimer, Kathleen

Abstract

Childhood obesity has been increased dramatically and become a public health concern in China. Parents have strong influence on children's eating and weight status. However, there is a lack of data about the influence of Chinese parents' child-feeding practices on children's weight status. This study aimed to assess parents' child-feeding practices and examine their relationships to young Chinese adolescents' weight status. A self-administrated survey was conducted among parents of young Chinese adolescents in Beijing urban areas. The survey included 29 items from Birch's Child-feeding Questionnaire (CFQ) and 15 items developed by the researcher to assess parents' attitudes, behaviors and family food environment regarding child feeding. Parents were recruited through students in public middle schools in two Beijing urban areas. Children's annual check-up data (weight and height) was obtained from schools. 598 parents of students in 7th and 8th grades were surveyed and 548 of them responded to the survey. By excluding those who were not primarily responsible for preparing family meals and those whose children's check-up data was missing, final data analysis included 355 records. The prevalence of overweight and obesity among children were 19.4% and 9.0%, respectively, using International Obesity Task Force recommendations. Boys had significant higher prevalence of obesity than girls. Results show that parents of young Chinese adolescents used controlling feeding practices to regulate the child's eating, including restriction of certain food, pressure to eat and monitoring of the child's eating. Parents indicated that they had some concerns about their child's being overweight. The family food environment was generally positive in these families with some unhealthy elements in sizeable proportion of families. After adjusting for socioeconomic factors and parents' BMI, multiple regression analysis showed there were positive associations of restriction and family eating patterns, and an inverse association of pressure to eat to children's BMI z-scores. Parents' child-feeding practices may have significant influence on children's weight status. Family-based intervention is needed to help establish or maintain a healthy eating environment at home in order to combat the rising obesity prevalence in Chinese youths. Further studies also are needed to gain better understanding of parental influence on children's weight status.

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