Obesity and socioeconomic class in children and their mothers

Michael P. Golden, Eleanor B. Saltzer, Lisa Depaul-Snyder, Michael I. Reiff

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    16 Scopus citations


    An attempt was made to identify environmental (potentially modifiable) factors which might contribute to the excess risk for obesity existing in lower socioeconomic status (SES) populations. The relationships between relative weights of children and their mothers, SES, maternal nutritional knowledge, maternal weight locus of control (WLOC), and hours of television viewed daily by children (TV) were evaluated in 144 children (mean age 5.9 years, range 2 to 14) and their mothers. The degree of overweight in children was measured by percent weight for height and expressed as the percentile for age. Maternal weight was expressed as the percent ideal body weight. SES was assessed separately by a 9-point rating scale of paternal occupation and by years of parental education, nutritional knowledge using a newly developed 17-item questionnaire, and WLOC by a previously developed scale., Subjects were recruited from two clinic populations selected to differ in socioeconomic status. Mothers from the lower SES clinic were heavier, had less nutritional knowledge, and perceived themselves as having less control of their own weight (external) than their higher SES counterparts. Hours of daily TV viewing were similar in both groups. Children from a lower SES resembled their mothers with regard to weight, whereas the middle SES children did not. Using multiple regression analysis, nutritional knowledge, external locus of control, and child TV viewing predicted maternal weight with a correlation of 0.4 in the lower SES clinic, but less strongly in the middle SES clinic., These results suggest that the increased risk for the development of obesity in children from lower SES populations can be decreased in part by programs directed at maternal weight control, including nutritional education and behavioral efforts focused on increasing internal weight locus of control. This approach is less likely to be successful in middle class populations.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)113-118
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Jun 1983


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