URBANA, Ill. A University of Illinois study has identified the three most significant risk factors for child obesity among preschoolers: (1) inadequate sleep, (2) a parental BMI that classifies the mom or dad as overweight or obese, and (3) parental restriction of a child's eating in order to control his weight.
"We looked at 22 variables that had previously been identified as predictors of child obesity, and the three that emerged as strong predictors did so even as we took into account the influence of the other 19. Their strong showing gives us confidence that these are the most important risk factors to address," said Brent McBride, a U of I professor of human development and director of the university's Child Development Laboratory.
"What's exciting here is that these risk factors are malleable and provide a road map for developing interventions that can lead to a possible reduction in children's weight status. We should focus on convincing parents to improve their own health status, to change the food environment of the home so that healthy foods are readily available and unhealthy foods are not, and to encourage an early bedtime," he added.
The researchers reached their conclusions after compiling the results from an extensive survey distributed to 329 parent-child dyads recruited from child-care programs in east-central Illinois as part of the U of I's STRONG (Synergistic Theory and Research on Obesity and Nutrition Group) Kids Program. The current research is based on the first wave of data generated in this longitudinal study, taken when the children were two years old.
The survey yielded wide-ranging information on demographics, health histories of both child and parent, and pertinent feeding practices. Research assistants also did home visits with each participant, checking height and weight and taking further information about the parents' history. The data was then subjected to statistical analysis.
|Contact: Phyllis Picklesimer|
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences