Modifiable Family Factors Among Treatment-Seeking Families of Children With High Body Mass Index: Report of a Pilot Study

Susan K. Riesch, Annmarie Lyles, Oscar Perez, Roger L. Brown, Kelly Kotula, Suzanne M. Sass-DeRuyter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this pilot study was to explore parenting style and other potential family and social indicators of an obesogenic or weight-promoting family environment. Modifiable factors were sought on which to base a nursing behavioral intervention that could be combined with diet and exercise to reduce youth weight. Methods: Twenty-eight parents and their 9- to 18-year-old children who were seeking care for overweight responded to in-home surveys to characterize parenting style (warmth/responsiveness and control). We also examined the extent to which parent modeling of health behavior, child feeding practices, parent knowledge of nutrition, and family social characteristics differed by the control aspect of parenting style. Results: Nearly all youth and parents reported substantial parental love (responsiveness), suggesting little variability in the warmth aspect of parenting style. In contrast, considerable variability was found in the control (moderate versus high) aspect of parenting style. Large effect sizes indicated that mothers with moderate control perceived their lifetime weight to be higher, had more concern about their youth's weight (p = .03), had better knowledge of nutrition, and had a lower body mass index (p = .02) than did mothers with high (firm or restrictive) control. Moderate effect sizes indicated that mothers with moderate control demonstrated better modeling behavior, higher perception of youth weight, practiced less pressure to eat, and had youth with lower body mass index and percent body fat than did mothers with high (firm or restrictive) control. Families who volunteered for the study kept their data gathering appointments, but we recommend a recruitment period of more than 4 months and the inclusion of several referral sites. Discussion: Further study of how parent control is related to youth overweight and how appropriate control can be achieved among families with teens who are overweight is recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-266
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Pediatric Health Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2013



  • Childhood overweight
  • Family factors
  • Parenting style

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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