Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: The influence of child feeding habits and other parental factors on childhood overweight and obesity
Authors: Fenech, Alexandra
Keywords: Obesity in children -- Malta
Health promotion
Public health -- Malta
Issue Date: 2011
Citation: Fenech A. (2011). The influence of child feeding habits and other parental factors on childhood overweight and obesity (Master's dissertation).
Abstract: Childhood overweight and obesity is a rampant problem across the globe, including Malta. Obesity at a tender age is likely to persist into late childhood and even adulthood, and the adverse outcomes associated with obesity are now being increasingly encountered in children, indeed intensifying its public health significance. Understanding the risk factors associated with the onset of obesity in the early years of life may provide useful information in reducing its prevalence through targeted preventive programmes. Intervening in the early years of life has been regarded as a prospective successful method in combatting future obesity and its accompanying comorbidities, bearing in mind that today's children are tomorrow's adults. Research on the associations between childhood overweight, and food intake, parent socio-demographic factors and feeding practices, has been published in many countries yet data is altogether lacking locally for toddlers. This cross-sectional survey is a first attempt at gathering population-based information for Malta on the dietary intake of a group of toddlers as well as assessing parental child feeding factors in relation to toddler weight status. This observational study was based on a quantitative analysis of the information provided. Interviews were conducted on a representative stratified random sample of 173 consenting parents aged 18-years and over, attending the 18-month Well Baby Clinic sessions offered at local health centres across Malta. Anthropometric weight and height data of their toddlers, measured on the date, was also recorded. BMI-for-age percentile estimates of toddlers (aged 18.1±0.6months) ranged between the 2nd and 100th percentiles, the prevalence of obesity being 18% for boys (n=84) and girls (n=89) respectively. Mean caloric intake among the toddlers was found to be 81% of the standard dietary reference intake value. While carbohydrate (108%) and fat (94%) intakes fell within more acceptable ranges, the amount of protein consumed by toddlers locally was almost 3 times that recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. Child gender, parent socioeconomic variables and dietary intake patterns were not significantly associated with the weight status of the toddler. The mean parental child feeding factor scores ranged from 4.64 (±0.S8) obtained for monitoring of child dietary intake to 2.09 (±0.98) which resulted for concern about child overweight. Child feeding factors were found to be associated with parent demographic factors and correlated with child weight status and dietary intake to varying degrees. The impact of dietary intake and child feeding factors on a toddler's weight status were successfully determined. Many interventions applied locally have correctly focused on educating parents on the dietary intake of their children as well as encouraging physical activity. In spite of these efforts, further insight on dietary consumption among the toddler group as well as information on child feeding habits among parents in relation to their child's weight status, may shed light on which factors may be targeted to improve the outcome of policies aimed at reducing obesity in children, as well as further research which could be undertaken at the national level.
Description: M.SC. PUBLIC HEALTH
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacM&S - 2011
Dissertations - FacM&SPH - 2011

Items in OAR@UM are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.