The Role of Parents on Childhood Obesity


Over the past 20 years, the problem of the spread of childhood obesity has become significantly more acute. Strategies aimed at overcoming the “obesity epidemic” are developed taking into account the vulnerability of children and the complex nature of the world around them. The early developmental environment of the child consists mainly of family members. Parents are key social agents who, through education, influence the child’s behavior in society. . The parental role requires careful consideration in the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity.

Therefore, this study is interested in investigating the research question of if parental care plays a role in the child’s probability of being obese? The main hypothesis of this research will be as the following:

Hypothesis: Parents’ non-involvement in their children’s daily food intake brings to obesity.

Null: Parents involvement in food choice does not make a change in the probability of a child to be obese by the age of 15.

The main terms and concepts developed in this research are the parent’s involvement in the daily food intake of children and obesity.

Thus, the dependent variable will be the probability of obesity in the child emerging due to improper food intake and the independent variable will be parental care. The possible intervening variables are the awareness of parents’ regarding the child’s daily food intake and financial status of the family. The control variables might be the genetics of the child since it is medically proven that people inclined to obesity are likely to come from families genetically inclined to obesity, as well as environmental factors.

Therefore, this study will also pay attention to the genetics of the study population, and the environment they are living in.

  • Genetics of the child (Control variable)
  • Parental care (independent variable)
  • Obesity (dependent variable)

Literature Review

In the article “Modeling Social Norms and Social Influence in Obesity”, the authors David Shoha,, Ross Hammond, HazhirRahmandad, Youfa Wang and Peter Hovmandfocus on the study of obesity as a social norm arguing that the increase in the obesity level in population has led the social norms to change. They also show that there is a linkage between the individual characteristics in dealing with obesity and the overall population characteristics. This is to say that these two types of characteristics are mutually correlated. The authors also show that the social influence mechanisms to obesity are difficult to see, however, they develop three models which enable the reader to observe the epidemic and social patterns. The first of these is social network analysis, agent-based model and systems dynamics model. As this is a desk-study, the authors used as methodology, there is no field research, however, the statistical data and the usage of previous works done in this field has helped the authors to conclude on the mentioned models, which clearly identifies the linkage between obesity and the associated environmental and social factors. The dependent variable of the authors is obesity, and the independent variable was the social norms. Data was obtained from the previous researches, however it is still valid and reliable because it is up to date, and there is a clear link to the obesity. The DV in this study is similarly as in ours, obesity, IV is social norms, there is no control or intervening variables mentioned.

Another article in this research is “Adolescents’ perspectives on everyday life with obesity: a qualitative study” written by GudbjorgOen, BenteKvilhaugsvik, Kari Eldal and Anne-GretheHalding. The main focus of the study is to learn how the children with obesity live their daily lives. The data were obtained by directly observing their behaviors in interviews and a consequent content analysis. At the end of the study the authors found that the obese children often faced bullying by their surroundings, while they saw almost no support from their parents, friends, or the health-care officers, which decreased their motivation to seek help. The DV here was the behavior of the obese children and the IVs were the environment, the support shown by any person around the child with obesity especially that the parent’s awareness and involvement in the diet of the child as an independent variable is very important. The data here again are up to date and reliable, because the authors include their target group, set the age limit and make the direct interviews to ask about their difficulties.

The third article studied for this research is “Perception of overweight and obesity from different angles: a qualitative study” written by Claudia Luck-Sikorski, Chrostiane Riedel, Melanie Luppa, Beate Schulze, Perla Werner, Hans-Helmut Konig and Steffi Riedel-Heller. The authors include general information on how the obesity has caused negative consequences, like the reduction of life expectancy, or the increase of discrimination, etc. Their main aim is to decide on the appropriate question of obesity and how to tackle it in the future. They collect the data by the discussions held with focus groups of overweight people and with normal-accepted weighted people. According to the findings of this study the obesity could easily be controlled by some factors including the societal ones. The societal factors include the ability of the children with obesity to have friends, or easily express their minds to the parents, as well as the parental care on their daily food intake. The IV here too was the behavior of people and the DV was as expected, obesity levels. The data are reliable and valid it is directly taken from the related individuals and up to date.

The fourth and the last article for this study was “Qualitative studies of obesity: A review of methodology” written by Ian Brown and Jill Cloud. This article is a review of previous works done on thus field and the main data collection method was to conduct face-to-face interviews. The authors have accessed the database for the qualitative studies done from 1995-2012. Overall 31 selected studies helped the authors to conclude that the external environmental factors are a lot more than the internal factor affecting the level of obesity in the individual. Here the DV was the lifestyle of the obese people, and the IVs were many, like the external factors, for example, lack of trusted friends, parents’ ignorance on obesity, etc. Although the data cover too big time period, it is still reliable and valid because the same answer is coming as a result contributing to the discussion and the conclusion.

Study Population

The study aims to collect answers from around 100 parents. The sample in this study includes parents who have at least one child and resides in the county. Both local and foreign parents can be subject to the study since the online share of the survey can attract the participation of foreign parents as well. If parents agree voluntarily to participate in the study, they will be offered to complete the survey, both online and hard copy version depending on the choice of parents, and with the random sampling, some of them will be asked about participating in an interview. The sampling frame is going to be consist of three types of educational institutions, one kindergarten, one preschool, and one school. During monthly parent meetings, the researcher will explain the study in detail including how the study will benefit the parents, why this study is important, how confidentiality will be maintained, and any questions the potential participants have regarding the study. In a separate sheet, the contact details of participants will be collected in order to share the results with them.


The study is utilizing a mixed-method design. Application of both quantitative and qualitative data will increase the validity and reliability of the study, alongside providing a better understanding of the topic. Both the survey and interview data are planned to be combined when analyzing the data. The motivation for selecting this design was to explore an in-depth analysis of the correlation between parents’ care and childhood obesity. By employing a mixed methods study, this provided a richer description of the context. The fact that usage of qualitative data will give broader information about the theoretical knowledge and scholarly opinions on the topic, and behavioral patterns of the study population, while the quantitative data will enable to identify the extent the problem is vivid in the country with statistical data. The numeric data collected through quantitative collection method enables us to provide generalizations with small sample size. Hence mixed method allows collecting different but complementary data. The application of only one data collection would not allow reaching such richer content.

The qualitative data will be collected from secondary sources and interviews. The quantitative data will be collected via surveys. ADA Library and electronic databases were used to analyze academic articles in order to investigate the extent of the problem, and the scholars’ opinion and findings on the problem. Later on, in order to analyze the spread of the problem, its urgency and attitude and behavior of the parents resided in the country, data will be collected through primary sources via surveys and interviews.

Surveys. A survey questionnaire is developed to provide numeric data regarding the attitude and behavior of parents on child obesity. This method is a helpful tool in order to provide objective data as possible. The development of the questions was guided through secondary sources, where other scholars have quired research questions and conducted survey questionnaires in other countries. The concepts focused within the survey were the following: financial status, physical activity level, usage of electronic devices, promotion of high-calorie food, parent’s eating habit, the BMI status of the parent and their child, the time spent together with the child, perceptions of parents on barriers and benefits in the community, attitude on the importance of childhood obesity strategies. Parents will be asked to respond to 10 questions, including agreement scale questions (e.g., 1= Strongly agree, 2= Agree, 3= Neither, 4= 49 Disagree, 5= Strongly disagree 1= Extremely important, 2=Moderatly important, 3=Somewhat important, 4= Slightly important, and 5= Not at all important). The questionnaire will be anonymous.

The first survey, pretest will be conducted with 5 participants in order to test the effectiveness and weaknesses of the survey. The participants will be asked if all the questions were clear in their meanings, if there are any recommendations regarding the possible misunderstandings of the questions, if the response choices are appropriate enough, if they have recommendations regarding the response choice and their general opinion on the survey, if anything else should be included or excluded from the survey. From the pretesting and piloting results, the actual survey questions will be finalzied and presented to the target audience.

Interviews. With the random sampling method, some of the parents, with their consent, will be chosen to participate in interviews. This method is used alongside the surveys because interviews allow the researcher to access to broader information regarding the attitude and behavior of the participants on child obesity. Interview questions were designed semi-structured in order to have the flexibility to control the line of questions, as well as the need to add extra questions arousing from the answers. The number of semi-structured questions is estimated around 10 with the same content on the survey questionnaire. The estimated number of participants is around 10 and completion of time is from 30 to an hour.

The content of the interview questions was created based on the literature review and survey questions. Besides, with the help of interview questions, the participatd parents will be categorized. The potential categories will be as the following. When parents want to build a positive relationship with their children, they prefer buying unhealthy food like burgers or sweets. Or there are also parents forcing their children to follow the nutrition plan that adults follow, which is also not right and healthy for children’s organism. Moreover, there are also parents who do not pay attention to the nutrition of their children. There are also parents who force their children to follow healthy nutrition and face resistant children, who as a result, prefer to eat unhealthy fast food.

In order to ensure feasibility in the study, we have mainly focused on parents resided in Azerbaijan in order to have easier accessibility to parents. Besides, due to a short time period, it was only feasible to collect data from a short sample size. Moreover, the mixed method was used in order to provide valid data that is actual to the time being and the location. In order to provide valid data, expert evaluations and previous scholar studies were referred regarding the content. Reliability is ensured with pre-testing method.

Data Analysis

Qualitative data will be analyzed based on the content codifications. Data collected via both literature review aand interviews will be classified according to the classifications of the main themes. First of all, the literature review discourse will be divided into main topics. Secondly, the recorded interviews will be coded based on the answers and recordings that participants took place and these codes will be organized with the help of an excel spreadsheet. Thirdly, these codes will be analyzed and interpreted into larger themes, which will be the key headings of for the analysis part. Lastly, the themes will be correlated with the main topics represented in the literature review and interpretation will be provided.

Quantitative data will be analyzed with the help of statistical test methods. In order to test the hypothesis, a T-test analysis will be run. T-test will help us to reject or accept null hypothesis as well in order to testify the main hypothesis. After categorizing the data into specific codes in the excel spreadsheet, the means of the data will be analyzed to make conclusions on the hypothesis. To test the independence of the variable and to see if there is an association between two variables, the Chi-square test will be run. Moreover, in order to model the relationships between the dependent and independent variables, a Regression test will be conducted. Lastly, in order to export demonstrative figures, excel graph and chart tools will be used.

Motivation for studying this subject: My motivation is to raise awareness among parents regarding the importance of parents’ involvement in their children’s nutrition and as a result, make changes in the perceptions of parents on childhood obesity.

Ethical Issues: Participants will be asked permission regarding the recording, and their identity will be remained anonymous.

Limitations of research: The main limitations are the lack of scholarly sources about the childhood obesity in Azerbaijan. Moreover, due to short time frame, small sample size will be questioned. On the other hand, the more participants would give much more reliable data.

Reference List

  1. Modeling Social Norms and Social Influence in Obesity” published in the Social Epidemiology: JM Oakes in 2015, the authors David Shoha,, Ross Hammond, HazhirRahmandad, Youfa Wang and Peter Hovmand. (2015). Modeling Social Norms and Social Influence in Obesity”, Social Epidemiology: JM Oakes. Retrieved at
  2. Luck-Sikorski C., Riedel C., Luppa M., Schulze B., Werner, P., Konig, H., Riedel-Heller, S. (2012). Perception of overweight and obesity from different angles: a qualitative study”, Scandinavian Journal of Public Health. Retrieved at
  3. Brown, I., Cloud, J. (2013). Qualitative studies of obesity: A review of methodology”, Center for Health and Social Care Research, Sheffield Hallam University Press.
  4. Oen, G., Kvilhaugsvik, B., Eldal K., Halding A. (2018). Adolescents’ perspectives on everyday life with obesity: a qualitative study, International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being. Retrieved at


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