How often parents make decisions with their children is associated with obesity

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Abstract

Background: Evidence supports that better parental involvement and communication are related to reduced obesity in children. Parent-child collaborative decision-making is associated with lower BMI among children; while child-unilateral and parent-unilateral decision-making are associated with overweight children. However, little is known about associations between joint decision-making and obesity among Hispanic youth. The purpose of this analysis was to determine the relationship between parent-child decision making and obesity in a sample of predominantly Hispanic adolescents. Methods: Data from two studies focused on risk for type II diabetes were analyzed. A total of 298 adolescents 10-14 years of age and their parent/legal guardian were included. Parents completed questionnaires related to psychosocial, family functioning, and environmental factors. Multiple logistic regression was used to determine the association between obesity (≥ 95th percentile for age and gender), the dependent variable, and how often the parent felt they made decisions together with their child (rarely/never, sometimes, usually, always), the primary independent variable. Covariates included gender, age, ethnicity, total family income, and days participated in a physical activity for at least 20 min. ORs and 95% CIs were calculated. Results: Adolescent participants were predominantly Hispanic n = 233 (78.2%), and approximately half n = 150 (50.3%) were female. In multivariate analyses, adolescents who rarely/never made decisions together with their family had significantly higher odds (OR = 3.50; 95% CI [1.25-9.83]) of being obese than those who always did. No association was observed between either those who sometimes make decisions together or those who usually did and those that always did. Conclusions: Parents and children not making decisions together, an essential aspect of parent-child communication, is associated with increased childhood obesity. The results of our study contribute to evidence of parental involvement in decision-making as an important determinant of adolescent health. Further studies should explore temporal relationships between parenting or communication style and obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number311
JournalBMC Pediatrics
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 25 Sep 2018

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Keywords

  • Adolescent - Parent communication
  • Decision making between parents and adolescents
  • Obesity

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