Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Parental Perspectives of a Childhood Obesity Intervention in Mississippi: A Phenomenological Study

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Parental Perspectives of a Childhood Obesity Intervention in Mississippi: A Phenomenological Study

Article excerpt


Childhood obesity has elevated worldwide awareness as its prevalence continues to rise, with an estimated 42 million preschoolers identified as overweight in 2010 (WHO, 2013). The United States has experienced this trend in children and adolescents with an increase of 200% and 300%, respectively, since 1980 (Ogden & Carroll, 2010). Nationally, Southern states have higher rates of obesity (TFAH, 2013). With a percentage of 21.9, Mississippi ranks as the state with the highest rate of childhood obesity for ages 10 to 17 (TFAH, 2010). Reports of health-related and psychosocial implications for overweight or obese children have stimulated public concern, especially since research indicates childhood obesity is likely to continue into adulthood (Deckelbaum & Williams, 2001; Dietz, 1998; Biro & Wien, 2010; Reilly & Kelly, 2011; Pan, Blanck, Sherry, Dalenius, & Grummer-Strawn, 2012). Behavioral habits are learned beginning in early childhood; therefore, it is imperative that health intervention measures be taken during these formative years (Doak, Visscher, Renders, & Seidell, 2006).

School and clinical settings are valuable resources for childhood obesity research; however, there is less exploration of family- and community-based intervention programs. Studies support multifaceted treatment programs involving education of diet, exercise, and behavior modifications (Goran, Reynolds, & Lindquist, 1999; Nemet, Barkan, Epstein, Friedland, Kowen, & Eliakim, 2005; Williams, Campanaro, Squillace, & Bollella, 1997). Evidence supports that the family is a vital component of therapy and can be influential to the child's outcomes since children often model the behavior of their parents (Gruber & Haldeman, 2009; Moore, Harris, & Bradlyn, 2012). Although no specific model or theory has been created to explain involvement of the family in promoting change in health behavior, it is determined that family participation, regardless of the design of the treatment program, remains a valuable form of intervention (Perryman, Nielsen, & Booth, 2008). Motivation of both the child and family is critical to the success of treatment (Dietz & Robinson, 2005); yet, there is limited understanding of the motivation of parents to seek treatment for their child and support the completion of these measures.

In this research, the overall problem was to explore the journey of the parent through experience with their child in a family-based, community intervention program, called The Youngest Loser, to determine factors that aided in successful completion. This research problem was supported by the following research objectives:

1. Determine parental perceptions of motivators to the successful completion of the intervention

2. Determine parental perceptions of barriers to the successful completion of the intervention

3. Identify family changes that were established as a result of knowledge gained through experience in the intervention

Qualitative research provided a means of determining factors that encouraged parents to continue their commitment with The Youngest Loser intervention program. A phenomenological study of the parents allowed the researcher to explore and describe a phenomenon to better comprehend complexities of a lived experience (Marshall & Rossman, 2006).

Contextual/Background Information of the Intervention Program

The Youngest Loser is a family-based, community intervention program established through Beyond Therapy Pediatric Group, a privately-owned pediatric therapy clinic in Ridgeland, Mississippi. The Youngest Loser gained support from local businesses, exercise facilities, city recreation facilities, physicians, and local celebrity Patrick House, winner of NBC's Biggest Loser Season 10. These community entities provided support to The Youngest Loser through funding, staff, mentorship, and/or facility usage. …

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