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.