Current Content
Volume 44 - Number 2
March/April 2018

Barriers to Childhood Obesity Prevention: Parental Knowledge and Attitudes
Brigitte Vittrup and Danielle McClure

The purpose of this study was to investigate eating and exercise habits of families with young children, their knowledge of health and obesity risks, and their attitudes toward prevention and intervention efforts. Parents and caregivers (N=205) of children aged 3 to 10 years completed a survey online or on paper. Participants were recruited from preschools and Head Start centers in the Southwestern United States. Results indicated that many parents and children were overweight, but most parents incorrectly labeled their overweight and obese children as being of healthy weight. Parents showed uncertainty and lack of knowledge regarding healthy eating, portion sizes, physical activity recommendations, obesity trends, and health risks. They rated themselves as most responsible for addressing childhood obesity, but support for various intervention efforts varied. Based on parent responses, the main barriers toward healthy weight status were food cost, lack of knowledge, and lack of time. Researchers and medical professionals should be mindful of these barriers when designing obesity prevention efforts and advising families on healthy lifestyles.