Academic journal article Childhood Obesity

Family Resiliency: A Neglected Perspective in Addressing Obesity in Young Children

Academic journal article Childhood Obesity

Family Resiliency: A Neglected Perspective in Addressing Obesity in Young Children

Article excerpt

[Author Affiliation]

Madeleine Sigman-Grant. 1 University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, University of Nevada Reno, Las Vegas, NV.

Jenna Hayes. 1 University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, University of Nevada Reno, Las Vegas, NV.

Angela VanBrackle. 1 University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, University of Nevada Reno, Las Vegas, NV.

Barbara Fiese. 2 Department of Human Development and Family Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL.

Address correspondence to: Madeleine Sigman-Grant, PhD, RD, Department of Cooperative Extension, University of Nevada Reno, 4330 Village Spring Street, Las Vegas, NV 89147, E-mail: sigman-grantm@unce.unr.edu

Introduction

Since 2004, over 3000 articles have been identified in PubMed related to the causes of obesity in preschool children, with many focused on a multitude of risk factors leading to excessive weight. Although recent data indicate a modest reduction in the prevalence of obesity in 2- to 5-year-olds,1 most US children grow up within an obesogenic environment, which promotes a sedentary lifestyle along with the overconsumption of food. This is done by (1) providing easy access to inexpensive, high-energy-dense foods; (2) reducing energy demands of daily life activities; (3) increasing sedentary leisure time; (4) limiting opportunities for recreational physical activity (PA); and (5) marketing messages that promote eating and sedentary behaviors.2 Based on family systems framework, it can be conceptualized that how families cope with the challenges of this environment is a product of their potential for resiliency.3 Moreover, the underlying assumption behind resiliency is that adverse challenges happen--it is how stress is handled or perceived that defines whether or not coping is successful.

The most basic definition of individual resiliency is the ability to recover from an adverse (i.e., stressful) situation. Warschaw and Barlow4 suggest that a resilient individual exhibits 10 components: possessing an unambivalent commitment to life; feeling self-confident; being adaptable; demonstrating resourcefulness; being willing to take risks; accepting personal responsibility; displaying a positive perspective; being open to new ideas; being proactive; and exhibiting attentiveness. These positive attributes allow resilient individuals to balance life stressors, including work and family, life cycle transitions, financial strains, illnesses, and losses. Family resiliency is defined by Patterson as "the process by which families are able to adapt or function competently following exposure to significant adversity or crisis"5 (p. 352). Bridging the child and the community, the family is central as the processes of handling adversity are enacted.5 Resilient families face challenges efficiently and are rarely derailed by stressors. Key characteristics of resilient households include organized and predictable routines, open and direct communication, and the capacity to adequately deal with negative and strong emotions.6,7

Considering that over three quarters of American preschoolers and two thirds of children and adolescents are not overweight or obese,1 it can be said that the majority of children have shown to be resilient to the obesogenic environment. Identifying how these families construct and manage their lives within this potentially high-risk environment should provide valuable insights into understanding the multiple dynamics protecting preschoolers from excessive weight gain and unhealthy behaviors.8 However, few studies directly link the long-established concept of "family resiliency" with either the obesogenic environment or with childhood obesity.9 There are nevertheless examples of family functioning that could be assimilated to demonstrate the link between family resiliency and childhood obesity. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.