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Title: What can child silhouette data tell us? Exploring links to parenting, food and activity behaviors, and maternal concerns

item DICKIN, KATHERINE - Cornell University - New York
item HUBBS-TAIT, LAURA - Oklahoma State University
item SIGMAN-GRANDT, MADELEINE - University Of Nevada
item Jahns, Lisa
item MOBLEY, AMY - University Of Connecticut
item WILLITS-SMITH, AMELIA - Cornell University - New York

Submitted to: International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/12/2012
Publication Date: 5/22/2012
Citation: Dickin, K.L., Hubbs-Tait, L., Sigman-Grandt, M., Jahns, L.A., Mobley, A., Willits-Smith, A. 2012. What can child silhouette data tell us? Exploring links to parenting, food and activity behaviors, and maternal concerns. International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. Abstract presentation at: International Society for Behavior and Nutrition and Physical Activity Annual Meeting at International Society for Nutrition and Physical Activity 2012; May 23-26, 2012; Austin, Tx.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Purpose: A study of resiliency to overweight explored how child silhouettes (maternal perception of child’s body size) related to child BMI, maternal concerns, parenting styles and practices. Methods: In a diverse, multi-state sample, 175 low-income mother-child (ages 3-11) dyads were assessed for parenting styles; eating, activity and parenting practices; maternal perceptions and concerns about child weight and over-eating; and BMI. Results/Findings: Silhouettes representing higher child BMIs were negatively associated with responsive parenting and recommended parent and child food and activity behaviors (p<0.05) but were unrelated to covert or overt control or parental modeling. Child silhouette was associated with actual BMI (0.55, p<.001) yet all mothers of overweight/obese children and almost 1/3 mothers of normal weight children underestimated. While concern with current child weight was highest (33%) among mothers of obese children, 15% of mothers of normal weight children were also concerned, viewing children as underweight. All overweight children were perceived as normal weight and mothers were unconcerned. In regression models, child silhouette predicted mothers’ concerns about child overeating and future overweight (p<.001). Maternal perception of own weight was significant only for future child overweight model (p<.01). White race was associated with lower maternal concerns in both models (p<.001). Conclusions: Child silhouettes reflected both actual and perceived BMI and were associated with maternal concerns and parenting style. Maternal underestimates of child weight status imply a need to increase awareness, but caution is advisable because concerns about over-eating and future overweight were associated with less responsive parenting and with less healthful parent and child lifestyle behaviors.