Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine
Adolescent; Child; Child, Preschool; *Communication Barriers; Feeding Behavior; Female; Follow-Up Studies; Food Preferences; Humans; Male; Obesity; *Parent-Child Relations; Parenting; Retrospective Studies; Social Environment
Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences | Pediatrics | Preventative Medicine
BACKGROUND: Parents are integral to the implementation of obesity prevention and management recommendations for children. Exploration of barriers to and facilitators of parental decisions to adopt obesity prevention recommendations will inform future efforts to reduce childhood obesity.
METHODS: We conducted 4 focus groups (2 English, 2 Spanish) among a total of 19 parents of overweight (BMI >or= 85th percentile) children aged 5-17 years. The main discussion focused on 7 common obesity prevention recommendations: reducing television (TV) watching, removing TV from child's bedroom, increasing physically active games, participating in community or school-based athletics, walking to school, walking more in general, and eating less fast food. Parents were asked to discuss what factors would make each recommendation more difficult (barriers) or easier (facilitators) to follow. Participants were also asked about the relative importance of economic (time and dollar costs/savings) barriers and facilitators if these were not brought into the discussion unprompted.
RESULTS: Parents identified many barriers but few facilitators to adopting obesity prevention recommendations for their children. Members of all groups identified economic barriers (time and dollar costs) among a variety of pertinent barriers, although the discussion of dollar costs often required prompting. Parents cited other barriers including child preference, difficulty with changing habits, lack of information, lack of transportation, difficulty with monitoring child behavior, need for assistance from family members, parity with other family members, and neighborhood walking safety. Facilitators identified included access to physical activity programs, availability of alternatives to fast food and TV which are acceptable to the child, enlisting outside support, dietary information, involving the child, setting limits, making behavior changes gradually, and parental change in shopping behaviors and own eating behaviors.
CONCLUSIONS: Parents identify numerous barriers to adopting obesity prevention recommendations, most notably child and family preferences and resistance to change, but also economic barriers. Intervention programs should consider the context of family priorities and how to overcome barriers and make use of relevant facilitators during program development.
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Citation: BMC Pediatr. 2009 Dec 21;9:81. Link to article on publisher's site