The study is published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
"Parents have a hard time shifting their child's dietary and physical activity behaviours," said lead writer Kyung Rhee, MD, and an assistant adjunct professor in the Department of Pediatrics. "Our study tells us what factors may be associated with a parent's motivation to help their child become more healthy."
The study is based on a survey of 202 parents whose kids were registered in a obesity clinic at the Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island in 2009 and 2008. The survey probed parents' readiness to take actionable steps to enhance their kid's eating habits and physical activity levels. The children ranged in age from 5 to 20 years old, with the average age of 13.8 years. More than two thirds were female, and nearly all (94 percent) were classified as overweight.
Although most of the kids were referred to the obesity practice by a primary care provider and had metabolic markers of obesity, 31.4 percent of parents perceived their kid's health as excellent or very good and 28 percent didn't perceive their child's weight as a health concern.
Parents indicated a greater interest in helping their child eat a healthful diet than encouraging the pediatrician-recommended hour of daily physical activity.
Especially, 61.4 percent of parents reported that they were improving their child's eating habits (less junk food, more fruits and vegetables) while just 41.1 percent said they were raising their child's involvement in energetic play, sports, dancing or even walking. Both exercise and diet are considered keys and a growing body of evidence suggests that these health habits are formed early in life.
Parents who had talked with their primary care physician about healthful eating strategies were more likely to be in the "action stage of change" with their child's diet. By comparison, parents who viewed their own battle as a health concern were less likely to be addressing their child's eating habits.
The researchers said income, schooling and race/ethnicity had no statistically significant impact on a parent's likelihood of making dietary changes due to their kid.
With regard to physical activity, researchers do not know why parents seem to underemphasize its role in good health, but the finding is consistent with other recent studies that suggest America's youth are mostly out-of-shape and sedentary, replacing playtime with "display time."
Experts say one strategy to counteract the trend may be to intervene early. Parents with kids 14 or older were substantially more unlikely to achieve success in helping their child acquire a physical dimension with their life than parents of younger children.
Poverty may also play a part in how much children move as parents with annual incomes of less than $40,000 were also less likely to be actively engaged in ensuring their child got routine exercise.
The above story is based on materials provided by http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140721142129.htm