Relationship of Childhood Body Mass Index and Parent’s Activity Preferences

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown, Hope College
Dr. Paulette Chaponniere, Hope College
Professor Vicki Voskuil, Hope College

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Little nursing research has been done on the relationship between a child’s health and activity preferences of his/her parents. As childhood obesity is a growing problem in the United States, the purpose of this research is to study the relationship between a child’s Body Mass Index (BMI) and their parent’s activity preferences. Pender’s (1987) Health Model was used to explore this relationship. Activity preference surveys, established by Jane Leary (2008) and adapted by Trent-Brown et al. (2010), were returned by the parents of 38 West Michigan area preschoolers (ages 3-5.5), selected through a convenience sample. Children were measured and weighed at the preschool sites. From this data the child’s BMI by age percentile was calculated. The parent surveys, available in Spanish and English, established whether a parent was sedentary or active in their pastimes. Statistical analyses on PASW-17 included bivariate correlations and multivariate analysis of variance. It was found that when a father preferred physical activities, the child was increasingly likely to have an elevated BMI [r(28)=.445, p=.014, r2=.198]. The highest mean maternal BMI measures were positively correlated with the obese classification for child participants [r(34)=.382, p=.022, r2=.146]. Limitations of this project include the survey nature of the parent test, which is subject to biases, the lack of knowledge about the children’s nutritional habits, and the nonrandomized selection process. Implications of these results are applicable for nursing education programs with young children and to promote a higher level of activity among parents and schools with young children, helping to increase a child’s activity level.

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