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The Impact of Parental Perception on Childhood Obesity: A Comprehensive Study

Jul 24, 2023 | 0 comments

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Jul 24, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments


Obesity is a medical condition that involves an extreme amount of body fat. Individuals are basically considered obese when their BMI is over kg/ m2. BMI is measured by dividing weight by the square of an individual’s height. Obesity is linked to chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and heart diseases (Okie, 2005).

According to Heinberg and Thompson (2009), child obesity is among the most critical public health issue of this century. This issue has been viewed as an epidemic and it’s now a global problem as its rate is increasing at an alarming rate. There has been an increase in the rate of child obesity where it has moved up from 4.2% in 1990 to 6.7% in 2010. Crawford (2010), observed that globally an estimate of around 42 million children at the age of 5 years is either overweight or obese. Of the 42 million close to 32 million live in developing countries. The prevalence of children with obesity is projected to hit 91% in the year 2020 which can be viewed differently as 60 million children.


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Obesity is rampant to the extent that it has reached epidemic magnitudes in the United States. In Canada, from 1979 to 2004, the occurrence of obesity among those aged 2-17 years increased from 15% to 26%. The occurrence of children suffering from overweight and obesity has increased remarkably. Considering across the world, obesity has been increasing rapidly and the incidence of obesity was almost double looking at the figure from 1991 to 1998. In the year 2014 close to 37% of the adults in America were obese (Knutson et al, 2009).

Gheibi and Ghasemzadeh (2014), gave further insights into obesity as they observed that obesity occurs basically when one takes more calories than he or she burns mostly through exercise, then the body stores the extra calories a fat. However, there are exceptions for behavioral, genetic, and hormonal effects on body weight. In addition to this, obesity can be caused by a medical condition such as Cushing’s syndrome, and Prader-Willi among other diseases. However, these cases are rare. The main causes of obesity are:

  • Inactivity: when people are active, they burn calories whereas when they are not the calories are stored in the body as fat. With an inactive lifestyle, one can easily take more calories than he or she uses through exercise or even normal activities (Crawford, 2010).
  • Unhealthy diet and eating habit: this is common in America as most of their daily diet are fast foods and beverage which has got high amounts of calories. With this diet weight gain is inevitable (Gheibi & Ghasemzadeh, 2014).

Statement of the problem

Obesity in children has been a controversial topic when the parent is put into consideration there is a thin line between parental negligence and external factors that force the child to be overweight right at the watch of the parent. To find a balance between the two the following research question will give more insight into the study:

  • · Could parental perception towards child weight be a contributing factor to childhood obesity?
  • Do external factors influence the parents’ roles towards the nurturing of children with obesity?

Literature Review

Obesity is now considered an epidemic that has to have influence in America as well as other countries (In Wile, In Cory & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.), 2013). This research will focus on childhood obesity of children who are below 10 years from Alberta Province in Canada and the emphasis will be on their parents’ perception.

The study conducted by Turnet et.al (2011), The study was qualitative research and it was about the parents’ experiences and opinions of managing childhood obesity gives a clear indication that even though the parents perceived primary care as an accurate setting in which childhood obesity can be treated. Most of the parents had consulted health practitioners about their child’s weight. This research goes ahead and explained that the parents who never consulted the health practitioner were reluctant to do so due to the fear of being blamed for negligence and also the impact that it will have on their child’s mental state. In addition to this, the reluctant parents had some uncertainty in whether the practitioners had the necessary resources like time and knowledge to effectively manage childhood obesity differently in comparison to the primary care. This is based on the knowledge that the General practitioner’s focus was only on the weight of the child contrary to what the school nurses did which the focus besides being on weight also entailed providing solutions to the esteem issues.
The relationship that parents have also played a part in child obesity is evident in the study by Greenfield and Marks (2018), which focused on the impact of a violent relationship from parents on the increased rate of both child and adult obesity. The findings in this study indicated that the adults who suffered from childhood violence from the parents were at a greater risk for adult obesity. This finding is consistent with the findings of a study done by Midei and Mathews (2011), on interpersonal violence and its influence on child’s obesity the study affirmed the fact that when a child is exposed to a violent childhood there is a likelihood of the child gaining weight and be obese as they tend to eat more as a way of dealing with the stress.

According to Knutson et.al (2009), when parents also introduce certain eating behavior to their children it contributes to increasing their chances of getting obese. Behavior such as frequent snacking, skipping breakfast, and binge eating which is common increases the prevalence of overweight tendencies as well as obesity in childhood (Institute of Medicine (U.S.) et al, 2011). various studies back this analogy with Kliewe( n.d), study giving more information in linking skipping meals to the increase in weight, therefore, the healthcare providers often recommended daily consumption in addition to this, eating breakfast according to the studies activates the body energy metabolism during the initial phase of the day of breakfast shown that skip breakfast (Institute of Medicine (U.S.) et.al, 2011).

Lifestyle and behavior are part of the core factor that plays a major role in the development of childhood obesity predominantly eating behavior, diet, sedentary behavior, physical activity, and psychological factors (Stein, Weinberger-Litman & Latzer, 2014). According to Crawford (2010), children basically follow the lifestyle that they have been introduced to by the parents, therefore, the parents are the major contributors to the above factors which subject their children to obesity. In this same regard, Okie (2005) observed that when parents give their children a meal that has got excessive energy for a continuous period of time it definitely leads to the children increasing the body weight and hence increase the chances of the children becoming obese. For instance, when parents or caregivers give a high-calorie intake to the children; for example when children are served food in large portions due to the mindset that parents have on food size, this will definitely lead to obese cases for the children.

There has also been an increase in the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages from 1970, this has also been linked to high sugar intake which later leads to high-fat accumulation and later on, and it develops into obesity (Gheibi, & Ghasemzadeh, 2014). The studies conducted on the intervention in childhood obesity have shown that the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages results in an increase in BMI and greater weight gain (Crawford, 2010).

The hypothesis to be tested

From the study above the following hypothesis will be tested in the study

  • · There is a significant relationship between parents’ perception of child weight and childhood obesity
  • · The external factors have a significant influence on parents towards the nurturing of a child who is obese


The previous session exhibited research that tinted some of the factors that are linked to childhood obesity as well as overweight. In this study, a survey method of research would be used to determine the parent’s perception of childhood obesity in children who are 10 years and below in a rural location. The section would illustrate how the sample size would be achieved, together with the instruments that the study will use not leaving behind data analysis and data collection (Silverman, 2016).

The survey method was utilized through the use of questionnaires as well as interviews. The parents whose children were either obese or overweight participated in telephone interviews and face to face as well and they were analyzed to define their perception of their child’s weight (Gibbs, 2011). The questions in the interview were designed to help determine if the parents were in the view that the overweight or obese situation of their children is a problem, also, it helps in identifying the parent’s experiences with their obese or overweight child or children. The interview played a critical role in the study considering its participatory nature, this enables individuals to play an active role in the planning, assessment, and implementation of the program.

The information received from the interviews in this study seal the gaps that are available on cases of obese as well as overweight of 10 years old children and below in Northeastern North Carolina and the information may be used directly as program development. This approach provides the researchers with detailed insight as per the point of view of the community or parties who are affected and by this it further allows for more actual program development (Gibbs, 2011). The participants of the study were the parents and of the obese children. The design of questions was precise to childhood obesity, and with this, it offered a chance for the parents to air out their perspective about their personal experiences with the cases of obesity and overweight amongst their children. The interview questions exposed the answers to “what are your experiences in regards to the phenomenon? And what situations have naturally affected your experience of the phenomenon?”. The design of the interview questions was strategically developed to ensure the efficient tackling of all the research questions for the study.

According to Silverman (2016), survey researchers adopt a strategic flow plan as well as chart specifically outlined by the design and line of questioning required to obtain information relevant to the implementation of an effective survey, Campbell, and Katona (1953). The flow plan begins with the objectives of the survey, lists each step to be taken, and ends with the final report. The survey research method can be determined by utilizing the occurrences in a natural setting. When an individual’s natural settings are used in the research it allows the individual the express his or her point of view naturally and provide information that is critical in enhancing discussion in the community or even amongst the policymakers and also involve citizens in their efforts to promote health. The utilization of the survey research method enables a faster as well as cheaper compared to the other data collection methods. Furthermore, the survey research method is relatively easy in analyzing the data collected.


Participants would be selected through a random sampling method. To get the participants the researchers would partner with the local health department and health programs that have a focus on 0-10-year-old children. This partnership would assist in getting the participants for the study. the reason the study had to partner with this organization is that they had a source of contact of the parents so it was easy to get access to the parents through them and also the fact that the organization was better placed to be used to disseminated flyers for example in a pediatric office where the target participants would easily access the information and volunteer. All the participants who were considered to fit to participate in the study were referrals from doctors and other health professionals. The participants would come from across the race and class. To cater to the anticipated downfall from the flyers the researchers all attended Parents teachers Organization meetings and ask for support in preschool upon the consent of the board of the school. Parents who were eligible to participate in the study had to have acquired a minimum age of 18 years.

A sample of 11 participants will be used to gain data for the research. The sample will be sought from the health facilities that are in Albert Canada such as Alberta Health Services Woodcroft public and West Jasper place public health centers.


The interviews will be conducted by the health practitioners, the questionnaire will check on the parent’s financial situation, the nurturing style of a parent, their behavior towards their children, and their opinion on obesity the second questionnaire will focus on physical activity and external factors which parents might see it as an influence towards their child’s obesity condition. The following materials will be needed for the exercise:

  • A consent form for the participants indicating their willingness to participate in the study.
  • An iPhone 6 to be used to record the interview.
  • Computer with NVivo 10 program to help in identifying recurring themes and for data analysis purposes.


Face validity will be used to measure the research whereby a shallow assessment of the hypothesis would be conducted to ensure it tests the intended Parameters. This study will be carried out by experts mostly health practitioners, therefore, they will be in a position of eliminating shoddy findings in the study (Silverman, 2016).


The interview will be conducted in a location where the participants would be comfortable. The researchers will have to travel to homes, while others will be conducted via telephone which will be 37 of them. After the interview, the data would be transcribed. The data would be conducted through interviews whereby each session would last for around an hour. Parents would be given a consent form and after the interview, the participants would be given a small gift of appreciation around $5.

Proposed Statistics

This research will deal with the applicability of inspirational phenomenology in different types of qualitative studies (Silverman, 2016). The data analysis in the study deals with parent experience and the guidelines on how to analyze and organize phenomenological data. The initial step would involve erasing any previous mindset or thought on childhood obesity to ensure neutrality during the analytical and interview process.

On the testing of the hypothesis, we will break down the hypothesis into various themes and subthemes. On the impact of parents’ perception hypothesis the following theme would be derived, the impact on chronic illness, approve that a child is obese or overweight and lastly disagree on whether the child is obese or overweight. On the hypothesis of parents’ positive effort, the following themes would be deduced to the child’s food habits, physical exercise, and when the child eats (Gibbs, 2011).

Ethical consideration

During the interview process, the participants would be allowed to answer questions without insinuation that could hurt the answer’s suggestions or their thoughts. To maintain the integrity of the process there would be checks for both the members and participant to ensure the data that is collected at the field is the data from the participant and no editing has been done to change the perception of the view of the participant (Stein, Weinberger-Litman & Latzer, 2014). In addition to this, the integrity of the process will also be guaranteed by ensuring the questions are restated in a way that the interviewee can have an understanding and answer freely and independently without persuasion.

The research will also ensure the medical records of the children remain confidential, and only parents who are willing to participate in the study will be allowed to take part in it. Furthermore, the research will be carried out by professionals who will know the boundaries and the limits to which they are subjected.

 The data analysis process will also be key to ensuring the purity of the research, first, the researchers will ensure the data is captured and recorded correctly as well as ensuring the interpretation of the different phenomenon is captured in its natural setting. All this will happen during the data collection and analysis sessions (Knutson et.al, 2009).

Anticipated result

The anticipated research in the study is the fact that there is a tight relationship between the parent’s perception of their child’s weight and obesity situation. If the parents perceive overweight as the norm there is a likelihood that their children will be obese simply because they won’t watch what they are eating and won’t be keen on doing physical activity and the opposite is true.

Secondly, external factors play a major role in influencing the parenting of an obese child. This factor includes financial constraints from the parents subjecting the children to feed on food with high calories which makes them obese.


The study will be instrumental to the counselors and health practitioners because it will give customized advice for them to focus on a broader perspective rather than focusing on the weight alone. For instance, the attention of an obese patient would switch from only focusing on him to focusing on the broader imagine that surrounds the child such as parents’ relationship, financial situation, and their perception towards their child’s weight.


The purpose of this study was to determine the perception of the parents about childhood obesity and overweight in children that are below 10 years of age in Alberta Canada. While the research on school-aged children has been conducted, there is still a wide gap regarding the issues surrounding overweight and obesity in schoolchildren. However, due to the nature of obesity being epidemic, there has been an effort that focuses on preschool children and the causes of overweight and obesity have been on the decline due to the effort. The data from the study would be gathered from the participants who will volunteer to answer the research questions. Participants’ answers would reveal whether they acknowledge childhood obesity and overweight exists. The study will highlight whether the parents feel safe in their neighborhood and whether the circumstances like the affordability of healthy food among other family issues play a role in their child’s eating habits which results in overweight and obesity.

The research could have been more specific demographically to give the study more depth. Given adequate time and resources, the research would have been a major success as it would provide a more diverse view that could have established a pattern that can represent the total population in Canada.

The participants of the study will be parents whose children had been diagnosed with an overweight or obese condition by a health professional. The sample will be obtained voluntarily which means they chose population would be individuals who chose to be part of the study. This limitation will definitely limit the number of participants in Northeastern North Carolina.

The limitation of this study will include limited access to the child’s medical records. This will be done by allowing parents to self-report if their child has an overweight or obesity problem as diagnosed by the health professionals. The limitation of the sharing of personal experience and exposure will affect the findings because of the variation of the experience of the participant and the findings may fall short of representing the entire population.


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