Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Donna Curry (Committee Member), James Ebert (Committee Member), Bobbe Gray (Committee Chair), Joseph Thomas (Other)

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


The rising rate of obesity in the pediatric population has demanded further investigation from members of the health care community. Numerous exercise and nutrition programs have been developed to help combat the growing rate of obesity within the pediatric population but many lack the family-centered approach needed to achieve increased compliance with the prescribed plan of care. Both parenting styles and parental feeding behaviors have been shown to play a contributing role in the weight of children. According to previous research, the authoritarian parenting style often leads to an increased BMI in children. Research examining parental feeding behaviors indicates that high rates of disinhibition, especially within mothers, contribute to an increased BMI in children. Very few research studies have examined both factors and the relationship they have with BMI in school-age children and adolescents.

This research study used a descriptive design to explore parenting styles, parental feeding behaviors and BMI in school-age children and adolescents. The sample consisted of 33 families attending a Midwest hospital-based lipid clinic for the first time from January 4, 2007 through March 15, 2007. The response rate for this study was 92%. Parenting styles were measured using the Parental Authority Questionnaire and parental feeding behaviors were measured using the Three Factor Eating Questionnaire. The child or adolescent's BMI percentile was calculated and then recorded on the demographic questionnaire. The demographic questionnaire was then handed to the parent(s) to be completed.

Of the 33 questionnaires, two were excluded because of incompleteness and one was excluded as the parent was unable to understand the questionnaires due to a low literacy rate for a final sample size of 30. The typical participants were white, middleclass, married females who worked and had at least a high school education. The majority of parents in this study identified with the cognitive restraint parental feeding behavior subscale and the authoritative parenting style subscale.

The families in this research study were not typical of families who have been previously identified in the literature as 'at risk' for becoming obese as they were middleclass, white working families. The risk for becoming obese has begun to cross all cultural, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. Middle-class citizens have the dominant culture in America which focuses on personal achievement and moving up the social ladder (Friedman, Bowden & Jones, 2003). Perhaps middle-class working mothers have limited time to spend on the purchasing and preparing of healthy meals and a reliance on fast food restaurants or 'easy to prepare' meals has become a mainstay in their homes. Many middle-class Americans of varying ethnicity are undergoing an acculturization process while moving up the social ladder and many may be discarding their own dietary traditions and values in an effort to blend into mainstream society (Friedman, Bowden & Jones).

Parenting styles and parental feeding behaviors can significantly contribute to the risk of their child or adolescent becoming overweight or obese. Identifying which parenting style and parental feeding behavior the primary caretaker identifies with can be of help to the nurse in developing a family-centered approach towards achieving a healthier lifestyle.

Page Count


Department or Program

College of Nursing and Health

Year Degree Awarded


Included in

Nursing Commons