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1.  Obstacles to the prevention of overweight and obesity in the context of child health care in Sweden 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:143.
Background
Overweight and obesity in younger children could better be brought in focus through a deeper understanding of how Child Health Care nurses (CHC-nurses) perceive their work with the problems of overweight at the CHC Centers. The aim of this study was to elucidate the CHC-nurses conceptions of their preventive work with childhood overweight and obesity in Child Health Care.
Method
A qualitative study, based on open-ended interviews, involving 18 CHC-nurses strategically selected from 17 CHC Centres in the southern part of Sweden using a phenomenographic approach.
Results
Two categories of description emerged from the data: (i) Internal obstacles to the CHC- nurses’ work with overweight in children and (ii) External obstacles to the management of overweight in children. The CHC-nurses conceived their work with overweight in Child Health Care to be complicated and constrained by several obstacles depending on the nurses’ personal priorities, knowledge, responsibility and the absence of resources and cooperation, as well as the lack of uniform guidelines for preventing and managing childhood overweight and further a deficient management organisation.
Conclusion
Nurses’ attention to monitoring overweight in children, and their initiative for prevention, is based on their conceptions of the obstacles that hinder them in their efforts. An increased awareness of the CHC-nurses conceptions of the priorities, their sense of responsibility and prevention practices is warranted. If measures in this direction are not taken there is a growing risk that overweight children will pass through the CHC without any formal recognition of their situation. There is an indication that the present level of the CHC-nurses’ preventive work with childhood overweight has room for improvement in several areas. It is suggested that the specialist education of these health care professionals should be supplemented and that organisation of the management of childhood overweight should be also revised at the primary health care level.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-143
PMCID: PMC3852529  PMID: 24079391
Child; Nurses; Obesity; Overweight; Perceptions; Preventive work; Primary care; Qualitative research
2.  Barriers to and facilitators of nurse-parent interaction intended to promote healthy weight gain and prevent childhood obesity at Swedish child health centers 
BMC Nursing  2013;12:27.
Background
Overweight and obesity in preschool children have increased worldwide in the past two to three decades. Child Health Centers provide a key setting for monitoring growth in preschool children and preventing childhood obesity.
Methods
We conducted semi-structured interviews with 15 nurses working at Child Health Centers in southwest Sweden in 2011 and 2012. All interviews were tape recorded and transcribed verbatim and imported to QSR N’Vivo 9 software. Data were analyzed deductively according to predefined themes using content analysis.
Results
Findings resulted in 332 codes, 16 subthemes and six main themes. The subthemes identified and described barriers and facilitators for the prevention of childhood obesity at Child Health Centers. Main themes included assessment of child’s weight status, the initiative, a sensitive topic, parental responses, actions and lifestyle patterns. Although a body mass index (BMI) chart facilitated greater recognition of a child’s deviant weight status than the traditional weight-for-height chart, nurses used it inconsistently. Obesity was a sensitive topic. For the most part, nurses initiated discussions of a child’s overweight or obesity.
Conclusion
CHCs in Sweden provide a favorable opportunity to prevent childhood obesity because of a systematic organization, which by default conducts growth measurements at all health visits. The BMI chart yields greater recognition of overweight and obesity in children and facilitates prevention of obesity. In addition, visualization and explanation of the BMI chart helps nurses as they communicate with parents about a child’s weight status. On the other hand, inconsistent use and lack of quality assurance regarding the recommended BMI chart was a barrier to prevention, possibly delaying identification of overweight or obesity. Other barriers included emotional difficulties in raising the issue of obesity because it was perceived as a sensitive topic. Some parents deliberately wanted overweight children, which was another specific barrier. Concerned parents who took the initiative or responded positively to the information about obesity facilitated prevention activities.
doi:10.1186/1472-6955-12-27
PMCID: PMC4175109  PMID: 24308289
Child; Preschool; Obesity; Health promotion; Prevention; Child health centers
3.  Primary prevention of childhood obesity through counselling sessions at Swedish child health centres: design, methods and baseline sample characteristics of the PRIMROSE cluster-randomised trial 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:335.
Background
Childhood obesity is a growing concern in Sweden. Children with overweight and obesity run a high risk of becoming obese as adults, and are likely to develop comorbidities. Despite the immense demand, there is still a lack of evidence-based comprehensive prevention programmes targeting pre-school children and their families in primary health care settings. The aims are to describe the design and methodology of the PRIMROSE cluster-randomised controlled trial, assess the relative validity of a food frequency questionnaire, and describe the baseline characteristics of the eligible young children and their mothers.
Methods/Design
The PRIMROSE trial targets first-time parents and their children at Swedish child health centres (CHC) in eight counties in Sweden. Randomisation is conducted at the CHC unit level. CHC nurses employed at the participating CHC received training in carrying out the intervention alongside their provision of regular services. The intervention programme, starting when the child is 8-9 months of age and ending at age 4, is based on social cognitive theory and employs motivational interviewing. Primary outcomes are children’s body mass index and waist circumference at four years. Secondary outcomes are children’s and mothers’ eating habits (assessed by a food frequency questionnaire), and children’s and mothers’ physical activity (measured by accelerometer and a validated questionnaire), and mothers’ body mass index and waist circumference.
Discussion
The on-going population-based PRIMROSE trial, which targets childhood obesity, is embedded in the regular national (routine) preventive child health services that are available free-of-charge to all young families in Sweden. Of the participants (n = 1369), 489 intervention and 550 control mothers (75.9%) responded to the validated physical activity and food frequency questionnaire at baseline (i.e., before the first intervention session, or, for children in the control group, before they reached 10 months of age). The food frequency questionnaire showed acceptable relative validity when compared with an 8-day food diary. We are not aware of any previous RCT, concerned with the primary prevention of childhood obesity through sessions at CHC that addresses healthy eating habits and physical activity in the context of a routine child health services programme.
Trial registration
ISRCTN16991919
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-335
PMCID: PMC3995501  PMID: 24717011
Childhood obesity; Primary prevention; Motivational interviewing; Primary care setting; Intervention study
4.  Supporting parents of preschool children in adopting a healthy lifestyle 
BMC Nursing  2012;11:12.
Background
Childhood obesity is a public health epidemic. In Canada 21.5% of children aged 2–5 are overweight, with psychological and physical consequences for the child and economic consequences for society. Parents often do not view their children as overweight. One way to prevent overweight is to adopt a healthy lifestyle (HL). Nurses with direct access to young families could assess overweight and support parents in adopting HL. But what is the best way to support them if they do not view their child as overweight? A better understanding of parents’ representation of children’s overweight might guide the development of solutions tailored to their needs.
Methods/design
This study uses an action research design, a participatory approach mobilizing all stakeholders around a problem to be solved. The general objective is to identify, with nurses working with families, ways to promote HL among parents of preschoolers. Specific objectives are to: 1) describe the prevalence of overweight in preschoolers at vaccination time; 2) describe the representation of overweight and HL, as reported by preschoolers’ parents; 3) explore the views of nurses working with young families regarding possible solutions that could become a clinical tool to promote HL; and 4) try to identify a direction concerning the proposed strategies that could be used by nurses working with this population. First, an epidemiological study will be conducted in vaccination clinics: 288 4–5-year-olds will be weighed and measured. Next, semi-structured interviews will be conducted with 20 parents to describe their representation of HL and their child’s weight. Based on the results from these two steps, by means of a focus group nurses will identify possible strategies to the problem. Finally, focus groups of parents, then nurses and finally experts will give their opinions of these strategies in order to find a direction for these strategies. Descriptive and correlational statistical analyses will be done on the quantitative survey data using SPSS. Qualitative data will be analyzed using Huberman and Miles’ (2003) approach. NVivo will be used for the analysis and data management.
Discussion
The anticipated benefits of this rigorous approach will be to identify and develop potential intervention strategies in partnership with preschoolers’ parents and produce a clinical tool reflecting the views of parents and nurses working with preschoolers’ parents.
doi:10.1186/1472-6955-11-12
PMCID: PMC3489519  PMID: 22852762
Overweight; Childhood; Preschool; Parental opinion; Health promotion; Action research
5.  Barriers to successful recruitment of parents of overweight children for an obesity prevention intervention: a qualitative study among youth health care professionals 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:37.
Background
The recruitment of participants for childhood overweight and obesity prevention interventions can be challenging. The goal of this study was to identify barriers that Dutch youth health care (YHC) professionals perceive when referring parents of overweight children to an obesity prevention intervention.
Methods
Sixteen YHC professionals (nurses, physicians and management staff) from eleven child health clinics participated in semi-structured interviews. An intervention implementation model was used as the framework for conducting, analyzing and interpreting the interviews.
Results
All YHC professionals were concerned about childhood obesity and perceived prevention of overweight and obesity as an important task of the YHC organization. In terms of frequency and perceived impact, the most important impeding factors for referring parents of overweight children to an intervention were denial of the overweight problem by parents and their resistance towards discussing weight issues. A few YHC professionals indicated that their communication skills in discussing weight issues could be improved, and some professionals mentioned that they had low self-efficacy in raising this topic.
Conclusions
We consider it important that YHC professionals receive more training to increase their self-efficacy and skills in motivating parents of overweight children to participate in obesity prevention interventions. Furthermore, parental awareness towards their child’s overweight should be addressed in future studies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-13-37
PMCID: PMC3403855  PMID: 22591134
6.  Genetic Markers of Adult Obesity Risk Are Associated with Greater Early Infancy Weight Gain and Growth 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(5):e1000284.
Ken Ong and colleagues genotyped children from the ALSPAC birth cohort and showed an association between greater early infancy gains in weight and length and genetic markers for adult obesity risk.
Background
Genome-wide studies have identified several common genetic variants that are robustly associated with adult obesity risk. Exploration of these genotype associations in children may provide insights into the timing of weight changes leading to adult obesity.
Methods and Findings
Children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) birth cohort were genotyped for ten genetic variants previously associated with adult BMI. Eight variants that showed individual associations with childhood BMI (in/near: FTO, MC4R, TMEM18, GNPDA2, KCTD15, NEGR1, BDNF, and ETV5) were used to derive an “obesity-risk-allele score” comprising the total number of risk alleles (range: 2–15 alleles) in each child with complete genotype data (n = 7,146). Repeated measurements of weight, length/height, and body mass index from birth to age 11 years were expressed as standard deviation scores (SDS). Early infancy was defined as birth to age 6 weeks, and early infancy failure to thrive was defined as weight gain between below the 5th centile, adjusted for birth weight. The obesity-risk-allele score showed little association with birth weight (regression coefficient: 0.01 SDS per allele; 95% CI 0.00–0.02), but had an apparently much larger positive effect on early infancy weight gain (0.119 SDS/allele/year; 0.023–0.216) than on subsequent childhood weight gain (0.004 SDS/allele/year; 0.004–0.005). The obesity-risk-allele score was also positively associated with early infancy length gain (0.158 SDS/allele/year; 0.032–0.284) and with reduced risk of early infancy failure to thrive (odds ratio  = 0.92 per allele; 0.86–0.98; p = 0.009).
Conclusions
The use of robust genetic markers identified greater early infancy gains in weight and length as being on the pathway to adult obesity risk in a contemporary birth cohort.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
The proportion of overweight and obese children is increasing across the globe. In the US, the Surgeon General estimates that, compared with 1980, twice as many children and three times the number of adolescents are now overweight. Worldwide, 22 million children under five years old are considered by the World Health Organization to be overweight.
Being overweight or obese in childhood is associated with poor physical and mental health. In addition, childhood obesity is considered a major risk factor for adult obesity, which is itself a major risk factor for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and other chronic conditions.
The most commonly used measure of whether an adult is a healthy weight is body mass index (BMI), defined as weight in kilograms/(height in metres)2. However, adult categories of obese (>30) and overweight (>25) BMI are not directly applicable to children, whose BMI naturally varies as they grow. BMI can be used to screen children for being overweight and or obese but a diagnosis requires further information.
Why Was This Study Done?
As the numbers of obese and overweight children increase, a corresponding rise in future numbers of overweight and obese adults is also expected. This in turn is expected to lead to an increasing incidence of poor health. As a result, there is great interest among health professionals in possible pathways between childhood and adult obesity. It has been proposed that certain periods in childhood may be critical for the development of obesity.
In the last few years, ten genetic variants have been found to be more common in overweight or obese adults. Eight of these have also been linked to childhood BMI and/or obesity. The authors wanted to identify the timing of childhood weight changes that may be associated with adult obesity. Knowledge of obesity risk genetic variants gave them an opportunity to do so now, without following a set of children to adulthood.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The authors analysed data gathered from a subset of 7,146 singleton white European children enrolled in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) study, which is investigating associations between genetics, lifestyle, and health outcomes for a group of children in Bristol whose due date of birth fell between April 1991 and December 1992. They used knowledge of the children's genetic makeup to find associations between an obesity risk allele score—a measure of how many of the obesity risk genetic variants a child possessed—and the children's weight, height, BMI, levels of body fat (at nine years old), and rate of weight gain, up to age 11 years.
They found that, at birth, children with a higher obesity risk allele score were not any heavier, but in the immediate postnatal period they were less likely to be in the bottom 5% of the population for weight gain (adjusted for birthweight), often termed “failure to thrive.” At six weeks of age, children with a higher obesity risk allele score tended to be longer and heavier, even allowing for weight at birth.
After six weeks of age, the obesity risk allele score was not associated with any further increase in length/height, but it was associated with a more rapid weight gain between birth and age 11 years. BMI is derived from height and weight measurements, and the association between the obesity risk allele score and BMI was weak between birth and age three-and-a-half years, but after that age the association with BMI increased rapidly. By age nine, children with a higher obesity risk allele score tended to be heavier and taller, with more fat on their bodies.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The combined obesity allele risk score is associated with higher rates of weight gain and adult obesity, and so the authors conclude that weight gain and growth even in the first few weeks after birth may be the beginning of a pathway of greater adult obesity risk.
A study that tracks a population over time can find associations but it cannot show cause and effect. In addition, only a relatively small proportion (1.7%) of the variation in BMI at nine years of age is explained by the obesity risk allele score.
The authors' method of finding associations between childhood events and adult outcomes via genetic markers of risk of disease as an adult has a significant advantage: the authors did not have to follow the children themselves to adulthood, so their findings are more likely to be relevant to current populations. Despite this, this research does not yield advice for parents how to reduce their children's obesity risk. It does suggest that “failure to thrive” in the first six weeks of life is not simply due to a lack of provision of food by the baby's caregiver but that genetic factors also contribute to early weight gain and growth.
The study looked at the combined obesity risk allele score and the authors did not attempt to identify which individual alleles have greater or weaker associations with weight gain and overweight or obesity. This would require further research based on far larger numbers of babies and children. The findings may also not be relevant to children in other types of setting because of the effects of different nutrition and lifestyles.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000284.
Further information is available on the ALSPAC study
The UK National Health Service and other partners provide guidance on establishing a healthy lifestyle for children and families in their Change4Life programme
The International Obesity Taskforce is a global network of expertise and the advocacy arm of the International Association for the Study of Obesity. It works with the World Health Organization, other NGOs, and stakeholders and provides information on overweight and obesity
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US provide guidance and tips on maintaining a healthy weight, including BMI calculators in both metric and Imperial measurements for both adults and children. They also provide BMI growth charts for boys and girls showing how healthy ranges vary for each sex at with age
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health provides growth charts for weight and length/height from birth to age 4 years that are based on WHO 2006 growth standards and have been adapted for use in the UK
The CDC Web site provides information on overweight and obesity in adults and children, including definitions, causes, and data
The CDC also provide information on the role of genes in causing obesity.
The World Health Organization publishes a fact sheet on obesity, overweight and weight management, including links to childhood overweight and obesity
Wikipedia includes an article on childhood obesity (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000284
PMCID: PMC2876048  PMID: 20520848
7.  Barriers to Provider-Initiated Testing and Counselling for Children in a High HIV Prevalence Setting: A Mixed Methods Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(5):e1001649.
Rashida Ferrand and colleagues combine quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate HIV prevalence among older children receiving primary care in Harare, Zimbabwe, and reasons why providers did not pursue testing.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
There is a substantial burden of HIV infection among older children in sub-Saharan Africa, the majority of whom are diagnosed after presentation with advanced disease. We investigated the provision and uptake of provider-initiated HIV testing and counselling (PITC) among children in primary health care facilities, and explored health care worker (HCW) perspectives on providing HIV testing to children.
Methods and Findings
Children aged 6 to 15 y attending six primary care clinics in Harare, Zimbabwe, were offered PITC, with guardian consent and child assent. The reasons why testing did not occur in eligible children were recorded, and factors associated with HCWs offering and children/guardians refusing HIV testing were investigated using multivariable logistic regression. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with clinic nurses and counsellors to explore these factors. Among 2,831 eligible children, 2,151 (76%) were offered PITC, of whom 1,534 (54.2%) consented to HIV testing. The main reasons HCWs gave for not offering PITC were the perceived unsuitability of the accompanying guardian to provide consent for HIV testing on behalf of the child and lack of availability of staff or HIV testing kits. Children who were asymptomatic, older, or attending with a male or a younger guardian had significantly lower odds of being offered HIV testing. Male guardians were less likely to consent to their child being tested. 82 (5.3%) children tested HIV-positive, with 95% linking to care. Of the 940 guardians who tested with the child, 186 (19.8%) were HIV-positive.
Conclusions
The HIV prevalence among children tested was high, highlighting the need for PITC. For PITC to be successfully implemented, clear legislation about consent and guardianship needs to be developed, and structural issues addressed. HCWs require training on counselling children and guardians, particularly male guardians, who are less likely to engage with health care services. Increased awareness of the risk of HIV infection in asymptomatic older children is needed.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Over 3 million children globally are estimated to be living with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). While HIV infection is most commonly spread through unprotected sex with an infected person, most HIV infections among children are the result of mother-to-child HIV transmission during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding. Mother-to-child transmission can be prevented by administering antiretroviral therapy to mothers with HIV during pregnancy, delivery, and breast feeding, and to their newborn babies. According to a report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS published in 2012, 92% of pregnant women with HIV were living in sub-Saharan Africa and just under 60% were receiving antiretroviral therapy. Consequently, sub-Saharan Africa is the region where most children infected with HIV live.
Why Was This Study Done?
If an opportunity to prevent mother-to-child transmission around the time of birth is missed, diagnosis of HIV infection in a child or adolescent is likely to depend on HIV testing in health care facilities. Health care provider–initiated HIV testing and counselling (PITC) for children is important in areas where HIV infection is common because earlier diagnosis allows children to benefit from care that can prevent the development of advanced HIV disease. Even if a child or adolescent appears to be in good health, access to care and antiretroviral therapy provides a health benefit to the individual over the long term. The administration of HIV testing (and counselling) to children relies not only on health care workers (HCWs) offering HIV testing but also on parents or guardians consenting for a child to be tested. However, more than 30% of children in countries with severe HIV epidemics are AIDS orphans, and economic conditions in these countries cause many adults to migrate for work, leaving children under the care of extended families. This study aimed to investigate the reasons for acceptance and rejection of PITC in primary health care settings in Harare, Zimbabwe. By exploring HCW perspectives on providing HIV testing to children and adolescents, the study also sought to gain insight into factors that could be hindering implementation of testing procedures.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified all children aged 6 to 15 years old at six primary care clinics in Harare, who were offered HIV testing as part of routine care between 22 January and 31 May 2013. Study fieldworkers collected data on numbers of child attendances, numbers offered testing, numbers who underwent HIV testing, and reasons why HIV testing did not occur. During the study 2,831 children attending the health clinics were eligible for PITC, and just over half (1,534, 54.2%) underwent HIV testing. Eighty-two children tested HIV-positive, and nearly all of them received counselling, medication, and follow-up care. HCWs offered the test to around 75% of those eligible. The most frequent explanation given by HCWs for a diagnostic test not being offered was that the child was accompanied by a guardian not appropriate for providing consent (401 occasions, 59%); Other reasons given were a lack of available counsellors or test kits and counsellors refusing to conduct the test. The likelihood of being offered the test was lower for children not exhibiting symptoms (such as persistent skin problems), older children, or those attending with a male or a younger guardian. In addition, over 100 guardians or parents provided consent but left before the child could be tested.
The researchers also conducted semi-structured interviews with 12 clinic nurses and counsellors (two from each clinic) to explore challenges to implementation of PITC. The researchers recorded the factors associated with testing not taking place, either when offered to eligible children or when HCWs declined to offer the test. The interviewees identified the frequent absence or unavailability of parents or legal guardians as an obstacle, and showed uncertainty or misconceptions around whether testing of the guardian was mandatory (versus recommended) and whether specifically a parent (if one was living) must provide consent. The interviews also revealed HCW concerns about the availability of adequate counselling and child services, and fears that a child might experience maltreatment if he or she tested positive. HCWs also noted long waiting times and test kits being out of stock as practical hindrances to testing.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Prevalence of HIV was high among the children tested, validating the need for PITC in sub-Saharan health care settings. Although 76% of eligible attendees were offered testing, the authors note that this is likely higher than in routine settings because the researchers were actively recording reasons for not offering testing and counselling, which may have encouraged heath care staff to offer PITC more often than usual. The researchers outline strategies that may improve PITC rates and testing acceptance for Zimbabwe and other sub-Saharan settings. These strategies include developing clear laws and guidance concerning guardianship and proxy consent when testing older children for HIV, training HCWs around these policies, strengthening legislation to address discrimination, and increasing public awareness about HIV infection in older children.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001649.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Davies and Kalk
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS publishes an annual report on the global AIDS epidemic, which provides information on progress towards eliminating new HIV infections
The World Health Organization has more information on mother-to-child transmission of HIV
The World Health Organization's website also has information about treatment for children living with HIV
Personal stories about living with HIV/AIDS, including stories from young people infected with HIV, are available through Avert, through NAM/aidsmap, and through the charity website Healthtalkonline
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001649
PMCID: PMC4035250  PMID: 24866209
8.  Factors associated with parental recognition of a child's overweight status - a cross sectional study 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:665.
Background
Very few studies have evaluated the association between a child's lifestyle factors and their parent's ability to recognise the overweight status of their offspring. The aim of this study was to analyze the factors associated with a parent's ability to recognise their own offspring's overweight status.
Methods
125 overweight children out of all 1,278 school beginners in Northern Finland were enrolled.
Weight and height were measured in health care clinics. Overweight status was defined by BMI according to internationally accepted criteria. A questionnaire to be filled in by parents was delivered by the school nurses. The parents were asked to evaluate their offspring's weight status. The child's eating habits and physical activity patterns were also enquired about. Factor groups of food and physical activity habits were formed by factor analysis. Binary logistic regression was performed using all variables associated with recognition of overweight status in univariate analyses. The significant risk factors in the final model are reported using odds ratios (ORs) and their 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
Results
Fifty-seven percent (69/120) of the parents of the overweight children considered their child as normal weight. Child's BMI was positively associated with parental recognition of overweight (OR 3.59, CI 1.8 to 7.0). Overweight boys were less likely to be recognised than overweight girls (OR 0.14, CI 0.033 to 0.58). Child's healthy diet (OR 0.22, CI 0.091 to 0.54) and high physical activity (OR 0.29, CI 0.11 to 0.79) were inversely related to parental recognition of overweight status.
Conclusions
Child's healthy eating habits and physical activity are inversely related to parental recognition of their offspring's overweight. These should be taken into account when planning prevention and treatment strategies for childhood obesity.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-665
PMCID: PMC3173349  PMID: 21864365
overweight status; children; recognition; parents
9.  Parental perceptions of weight status in children: the Gateshead Millennium Study 
Objectives
To investigate parents’ perceptions of weight status in children and to explore parental understanding of and attitudes to childhood overweight.
Design
Questionnaires and focus groups within a longitudinal study.
Subjects
536 parents of Gateshead Millennium Study children, of which 27 attended 6 focus groups.
Main outcome measures
Parents’ perception of their child’s weight status according to actual weight status as defined by International Obesity Taskforce (IOTF) cut-offs. Focus group outcomes included parental awareness of childhood overweight nationally and parental approaches to identifying overweight children.
Results
The sensitivity of parents recognising if their child was overweight was 0.31. Prevalence of child overweight was underestimated: 7.3% of children were perceived as ‘overweight’ or ‘very overweight’ by their parents, 23.7% were identified as overweight or obese using IOTF criteria. 69.3% of parents of overweight or obese children identified their child as being of ‘normal’ weight. During focus groups parents demonstrated an awareness of childhood overweight being a problem nationally but their understanding of how it is defined was limited. Parents used alternative approaches to objective measures when identifying overweight in children such as visual assessments and comparisons with other children. Such approaches relied heavily on extreme and exceptional cases as a reference point. The apparent lack of relevance of childhood overweight to their child’s school or own community along with scepticism towards both media messages and clinical measures commonly emerged as grounds for failing to engage with the issue at a personal level.
Conclusion
Parents’ ability to identify when their child was overweight according to standard criteria was limited. Parents did not understand, use or trust clinical measures and used alternative approaches primarily reliant on extreme cases. Such approaches underpinned their reasoning for remaining detached from the issue. This study highlights the need to identify methods of improving parental recognition of and engagement with the problem of childhood overweight.
doi:10.1038/ijo.2011.106
PMCID: PMC3154641  PMID: 21673651
Qualitative Research; Parents; Child; Perception; Overweight; Obesity
10.  Pregnancy Weight Gain and Childhood Body Weight: A Within-Family Comparison 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(10):e1001521.
David Ludwig and colleagues examine the within-family relationship between pregnancy weight gain and the offspring's childhood weight gain, thereby reducing the influence of genes and environment.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Excessive pregnancy weight gain is associated with obesity in the offspring, but this relationship may be confounded by genetic and other shared influences. We aimed to examine the association of pregnancy weight gain with body mass index (BMI) in the offspring, using a within-family design to minimize confounding.
Methods and Findings
In this population-based cohort study, we matched records of all live births in Arkansas with state-mandated data on childhood BMI collected in public schools (from August 18, 2003 to June 2, 2011). The cohort included 42,133 women who had more than one singleton pregnancy and their 91,045 offspring. We examined how differences in weight gain that occurred during two or more pregnancies for each woman predicted her children's BMI and odds ratio (OR) of being overweight or obese (BMI≥85th percentile) at a mean age of 11.9 years, using a within-family design. For every additional kg of pregnancy weight gain, childhood BMI increased by 0.0220 (95% CI 0.0134–0.0306, p<0.0001) and the OR of overweight/obesity increased by 1.007 (CI 1.003–1.012, p = 0.0008). Variations in pregnancy weight gain accounted for a 0.43 kg/m2 difference in childhood BMI. After adjustment for birth weight, the association of pregnancy weight gain with childhood BMI was attenuated but remained statistically significant (0.0143 kg/m2 per kg of pregnancy weight gain, CI 0.0057–0.0229, p = 0.0007).
Conclusions
High pregnancy weight gain is associated with increased body weight of the offspring in childhood, and this effect is only partially mediated through higher birth weight. Translation of these findings to public health obesity prevention requires additional study.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Childhood obesity has become a worldwide epidemic. For example, in the United States, the number of obese children has more than doubled in the past 30 years. 7% of American children aged 6–11 years were obese in 1980, compared to nearly 18% in 2010. Because of the rising levels of obesity, the current generation of children may have a shorter life span than their parents for the first time in 200 years.
Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health. The initial problems are usually psychological. Obese children often experience discrimination, leading to low self-esteem and depression. Their physical health also suffers. They are more likely to be at risk of cardiovascular disease from high cholesterol and high blood pressure. They may also develop pre-diabetes or diabetes type II. In the long-term, obese children tend to become obese adults, putting them at risk of premature death from stroke, heart disease, or cancer.
There are many factors that lead to childhood obesity and they often act in combination. A major risk factor, especially for younger children, is having at least one obese parent. The challenge lies in unravelling the complex links between the genetic and environmental factors that are likely to be involved.
Why Was This Study Done?
Several studies have shown that a child's weight is influenced by his/her mother's weight before pregnancy and her weight gain during pregnancy. An obese mother, or a mother who puts on more pregnancy weight than average, is more likely to have an obese child.
One explanation for the effects of pregnancy weight gain is that the mother's overeating directly affects the baby's development. It may change the baby's brain and metabolism in such a way as to increase the child's long-term risk of obesity. Animal studies have confirmed that the offspring of overfed rats show these kinds of physiological changes. However, another possible explanation is that mother and baby share a similar genetic make-up and environment so that a child becomes obese from inheriting genetic risk factors, and growing up in a household where being overweight is the norm.
The studies in humans that have been carried out to date have not been able to distinguish between these explanations. Some have given conflicting results. The aim of this study was therefore to look for evidence of links between pregnancy weight gain and children's weight, using an approach that would separate the impact of genetic and environmental factors from a direct effect on the developing baby.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers examined data from the population of the US state of Arkansas recorded between 2003 and 2011. They looked at the health records of over 42,000 women who had given birth to more than one child during this period. This gave them information about how much weight the women had gained during each of their pregnancies. The researchers also looked at the school records of the children, over 91,000 in total, which included the children's body mass index (BMI, which factors in both height and weight). They analyzed the data to see if there was a link between the mothers' pregnancy weight gain and the child's BMI at around 12 years of age. Most importantly, they looked at these links within families, comparing children born to the same mother. The rationale for this approach was that these children would share a similar genetic make-up and would have grown up in similar environments. By taking genetics and environment into account in this manner, any remaining evidence of an impact of pregnancy weight gain on the children's BMI would have to be explained by other factors.
The results showed that the amount of weight each mother gained in pregnancy predicted her children's BMI and the likelihood of her children being overweight or obese. For every additional kg the mother gained during pregnancy, the children's BMI increased by 0.022. The children of mothers who put on the most weight had a BMI that was on average 0.43 higher than the children whose mothers had put on the least weight.
The study leaves some questions unanswered, including whether the mother's weight before pregnancy makes a difference to their children's BMI. The researchers were not able to obtain these measurements, nor the weight of the fathers. There may have also been other factors that weren't measured that might explain the links that were found.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This study shows that mothers who gain excessive weight during pregnancy increase the risk of their child becoming obese. This appears to be partly due to a direct effect on the developing baby.
These results represent a significant public health concern, even though the impact on an individual basis is relatively small. They could contribute to several hundred thousand cases of childhood obesity worldwide. Importantly, they also suggest that some cases could be prevented by measures to limit excessive weight gain during pregnancy. Such an approach could prove effective, as most mothers will not want to damage their child's health, and might therefore be highly motivated to change their behavior. However, because inadequate weight gain during pregnancy can also adversely affect the developing fetus, it will be essential for women to receive clear information about what constitutes optimal weight gain during pregnancy.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001521.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide Childhood Obesity Facts
The UK National Health Service article “How much weight will I put on during my pregnancy?” provides information on pregnancy and weight gain and links to related resources
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001521
PMCID: PMC3794857  PMID: 24130460
11.  A randomised controlled trial for overweight and obese parents to prevent childhood obesity - Early STOPP (STockholm Obesity Prevention Program) 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:336.
Background
Overweight and obesity have a dramatic negative impact on children's health not only during the childhood but also throughout the adult life. Preventing the development of obesity in children is therefore a world-wide health priority. There is an obvious urge for sustainable and evidenced-based interventions that are suitable for families with young children, especially for families with overweight or obese parents. We have developed a prevention program, Early STOPP, combating multiple obesity-promoting behaviors such unbalanced diet, physical inactivity and disturbed sleeping patterns. We also aim to evaluate the effectiveness of the early childhood obesity prevention in a well-characterized population of overweight or obese parents. This protocol outlines methods for the recruitment phase of the study.
Design and methods
This randomized controlled trial (RCT) targets overweight and/or obese parents with infants, recruited from the Child Health Care Centers (CHCC) within the Stockholm area. The intervention starts when infants are one year of age and continues until they are six and is regularly delivered by a trained coach (dietitian, physiotherapist or a nurse). The key aspects of Early STOPP family intervention are based on Swedish recommendations for CHCC, which include advices on healthy food choices and eating patterns, increasing physical activity/reducing sedentary behavior and regulating sleeping patterns.
Discussion
The Early STOPP trial design addresses weaknesses of previous research by recruiting from a well-characterized population, defining a feasible, theory-based intervention and assessing multiple measurements to validate and interpret the program effectiveness. The early years hold promise as a time in which obesity prevention may be most effective. To our knowledge, this longitudinal RCT is the first attempt to demonstrate whether an early, long-term, targeted health promotion program focusing on healthy eating, physical activity/reduced sedentary behaviors and normalizing sleeping patterns could be effective. If proven so, Early STOPP may protect children from the development of overweight and obesity.
Trial registration
The protocol for this study is registered with the clinical trials registry clinicaltrials.gov, ID: ES-2010)
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-336
PMCID: PMC3121630  PMID: 21592388
12.  Earlier Mother's Age at Menarche Predicts Rapid Infancy Growth and Childhood Obesity 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(4):e132.
Background
Early menarche tends to be preceded by rapid infancy weight gain and is associated with increased childhood and adult obesity risk. As age at menarche is a heritable trait, we hypothesised that age at menarche in the mother may in turn predict her children's early growth and obesity risk.
Methods and Findings
We tested associations between mother's age at menarche, mother's adult body size and obesity risk, and her children's growth and obesity risk in 6,009 children from the UK population-based Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) birth cohort who had growth and fat mass at age 9 y measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. A subgroup of 914 children also had detailed infancy and childhood growth data. In the mothers, earlier menarche was associated with shorter adult height (by 0.64 cm/y), increased weight (0.92 kg/y), and body mass index (BMI, 0.51 kg/m2/y; all p < 0.001). In contrast, in her children, earlier mother's menarche predicted taller height at 9 y (by 0.41 cm/y) and greater weight (0.80 kg/y), BMI (0.29 kg/m2/y), and fat mass index (0.22 kg/m2/year; all p < 0.001). Children in the earliest mother's menarche quintile (≤11 y) were more obese than the oldest quintile (≥15 y) (OR, 2.15, 95% CI 1.46 to 3.17; p < 0.001, adjusted for mother's education and BMI). In the subgroup, children in the earliest quintile showed faster gains in weight (p < 0.001) and height (p < 0.001) only from birth to 2 y, but not from 2 to 9 y (p = 0.3–0.8).
Conclusions
Earlier age at menarche may be a transgenerational marker of a faster growth tempo, characterised by rapid weight gain and growth, particularly during infancy, and leading to taller childhood stature, but likely earlier maturation and therefore shorter adult stature. This growth pattern confers increased childhood and adult obesity risks.
Earlier age at menarche may be a transgenerational marker of faster growth, particularly during infancy, leading to taller childhood stature but earlier maturation and hence shorter adult stature.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Childhood obesity is a rapidly growing problem. Twenty-five years ago, overweight children were rare. Now, 155 million of the world's children are overweight and 30–45 million are obese. Overweight and obese children—those having a higher than average body mass index (BMI; weight divided by height squared) for their age and sex—are at increased risk of becoming obese adults. Such people are more likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems than lean people. Many factors are involved in the burgeoning size of children. Parental obesity, for example, predisposes children to being overweight. In part, this is because parents influence the eating habits of their offspring and the amount of exercise they do. In addition, though, children inherit genetic factors from their parents that make them more likely to put on weight.
Why Was This Study Done?
To prevent childhood obesity, health care professionals need ways to predict which infants are likely to become obese so that they can give parents advice on controlling their children's weight. In girls, early menarche (the start of menstruation) is associated with an increased risk of childhood and adult obesity and tends to be preceded by rapid weight gain in the first two years of life. Because age at menarche is inherited, the researchers in this study have investigated whether mothers' age at menarche predicts rapid growth in infancy and childhood obesity in their offspring using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). In 1991–1992, this study recruited nearly 14,000 children born in Bristol, UK. Since then, the children have been regularly examined to investigate how their environment and genetic inheritance interact to affect their health.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers measured the growth and fat mass of 6,009 children from ALSPAC at 9 years of age. For 914 of these children, the researchers had detailed data on their growth during infancy and early childhood. They then looked for any associations between the mother's age at menarche (as recalled during pregnancy), mother's adult body size, and the children's growth and obesity risk. In the mothers, earlier menarche was associated with shorter adult height and increased weight and BMI. In the children, those whose mothers had earlier menarche were taller and heavier than those whose mothers had a later menarche. They also had a higher BMI and more body fat. The children whose mothers had their first period before they were 11 were twice as likely to be obese as those whose mothers did not menstruate until they were 15 or older. Finally, for the children with detailed early growth data, those whose mothers had the earliest menarche had faster weight and height gains in the first two years of life (but not in the next seven years) than those whose mothers had the latest menarche.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that earlier mother's menarche predicts a faster growth tempo (the speed at which an individual reaches their adult height) in their offspring, which is characterized by rapid weight and height gain during infancy. This faster growth tempo leads to taller childhood stature, earlier sexual maturity, and—because age at puberty determines adult height—shorter adult stature. An inherited growth pattern like this, the researchers write, confers an increased risk of childhood and adult obesity. As with all studies that look for associations between different measurements, these findings will be affected by the accuracy of the measurements—for example, how well the mothers recalled their age at menarche. Furthermore, because puberty, particularly in girls, is associated with an increase in body fat, a high BMI at age nine might indicate imminent puberty rather than a risk of long-standing obesity—further follow-up studies will clarify this point. Nevertheless, the current findings provide a new factor—earlier mother's menarche—that could help health care professionals identify which infants require early growth monitoring to avoid later obesity.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040132.
The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children has a description of the study and results to date
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on overweight and obesity (in English and Spanish)
US Department of Health and Human Services's program, Smallstep Kids, is an interactive site for children about healthy eating (in English and Spanish)
The International Obesity Taskforce has information on obesity and its prevention
The World Heart Federation's Global Prevention Alliance provides details of international efforts to halt the obesity epidemic and its associated chronic diseases
The Child Growth Foundation has information on childhood growth and its measurement
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040132
PMCID: PMC1876410  PMID: 17455989
13.  Early life factors and being overweight at 4 years of age among children in Malmö, Sweden 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:764.
Background
Rising rates of obesity and overweight is an increasing public health problem all over the world. Recent research has shown the importance of early life factors in the development of child overweight. However, to the best of our knowledge there are no studies investigating the potential synergistic effect of early life factors and presence of parental overweight on the development of child overweight.
Methods
The study was population-based and cross-sectional. The study population consisted of children who visited the Child Health Care (CHC) centers in Malmö for their 4-year health check during 2003-2008 and whose parents answered a self-administered questionnaire (n = 9009 children).
Results
The results showed that having overweight/obese parents was strongly associated with the child being overweight or obese. Furthermore, there was an association between unfavorable early life factors (i.e., mother smoking during pregnancy, presence of secondhand tobacco smoke early in life, high birth weight) and the development of child overweight/obesity at four years of age, while breastfeeding seemed to have a protective role. For example, maternal smoking during pregnancy was associated with an odds ratio (OR) of 1.47 (95% CI: 1.22, 1.76) for overweight and 2.31 (95% CI: 1.68, 3.17) for obesity. The results further showed synergistic effects between parental overweight and exposure to unfavourable early life factors in the development of child overweight.
Conclusions
The present study shows the importance of early life factors in the development of child overweight and obesity, and thus puts focus on the importance of early targeted interventions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-764
PMCID: PMC3022848  PMID: 21159203
14.  Low Awareness of Overweight Status Among Parents of Preschool-Aged Children, Minnesota, 2004-2005 
Preventing Chronic Disease  2009;6(2):A47.
Introduction
Many studies have found that parents of overweight children do not perceive their child to be overweight. Little is known, however, about the extent to which such misperceptions exist among parents of preschool-aged children.
Methods
We analyzed data that were collected in 2004-2005 from parents of 593 preschool-aged children in 20 child care centers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, metropolitan area. Parents were asked how they would classify their preschooler's weight, and children's height and weight were measured.
Results
Of the predominantly white, educated sample, most parents (90.7%) of overweight preschoolers classified their child as normal weight. An even higher percentage (94.7%) of children at risk for overweight were classified as normal weight by their parents. Most parents of normal-weight children classified their child's weight as average. However, 16.0% classified their normal-weight child as underweight or very underweight.
Conclusion
Results indicate that parents are unlikely to recognize childhood overweight among preschool-aged children, which is concerning because parents of overweight children may be unlikely to engage in obesity prevention efforts for their child if they do not recognize their child's risk status. A notable proportion of parents of normal-weight children perceived their child to be underweight, which suggests that parents of normal-weight children may be more concerned with undernutrition than overnutrition.
PMCID: PMC2687853  PMID: 19288990
15.  The benefits and harms of providing parents with weight feedback as part of the national child measurement programme: a prospective cohort study 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:549.
Background
Small-scale evaluations suggest that the provision of feedback to parents about their child’s weight status may improve recognition of overweight, but the effects on lifestyle behaviour are unclear and there are concerns that informing parents that their child is overweight may have harmful effects. The aims of this study were to describe the benefits and harms of providing weight feedback to parents as part of a national school-based weight-screening programme in England.
Methods
We conducted a pre-post survey of 1,844 parents of children aged 4–5 and 10–11 years who received weight feedback as part of the 2010–2011 National Child Measurement Programme. Questionnaires assessed general knowledge about the health risks associated with child overweight, parental recognition of overweight and the associated health risks in their child, child lifestyle behaviour, child self-esteem and weight-related teasing, parental experience of the feedback, and parental help-seeking behaviour. Differences in the pre-post proportions of parents reporting each outcome were assessed using a McNemar’s test.
Results
General knowledge about child overweight as a health issue was high at baseline and increased further after weight feedback. After feedback, the proportion of parents that correctly recognised their child was overweight increased from 21.9% to 37.7%, and more than a third of parents of overweight children sought further information regarding their child’s weight. However, parent-reported changes in lifestyle behaviours among children were minimal, and limited to increases in physical activity in the obese children only. There was some suggestion that weight feedback had a greater impact upon changing parental recognition of the health risks associated with child overweight in non-white ethnic groups.
Conclusions
In this population-based sample of parents of children participating in the National Child Measurement Programme, provision of weight feedback increased recognition of child overweight and encouraged some parents to seek help, without causing obvious unfavourable effects. The impact of weight feedback on behaviour change was limited; suggesting that further work is needed to identify ways to more effectively communicate health information to parents and to identify what information and support may encourage parents in making and maintaining lifestyle changes for their child.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-549
PMCID: PMC4057922  PMID: 24888972
Childhood obesity; Weight feedback; National child measurement programme; BMI screening
16.  "Smoking in Children's Environment Test": a qualitative study of experiences of a new instrument applied in preventive work in child health care 
BMC Pediatrics  2011;11:113.
Background
Despite knowledge of the adverse health effects of passive smoking, children are still being exposed. Children's nurses play an important role in tobacco preventive work through dialogue with parents aimed at identifying how children can be protected from environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure. The study describes the experiences of Child Health Care (CHC) nurses when using the validated instrument SiCET (Smoking in Children's Environment Test) in dialogue with parents.
Method
In an intervention in CHC centres in south-eastern Sweden nurses were invited to use the SiCET. Eighteen nurses participated in focus group interviews. Transcripts were reviewed and their contents were coded into categories by three investigators using the method described for focus groups interviews.
Results
The SiCET was used in dialogue with parents in tobacco preventive work and resulted in focused discussions on smoking and support for behavioural changes among parents. The instrument had both strengths and limitations. The nurses experienced that the SiCET facilitated dialogue with parents and gave a comprehensive view of the child's ETS exposure. This gave nurses the possibility of taking on a supportive role by offering parents long-term help in protecting their child from ETS exposure and in considering smoking cessation.
Conclusion
Our findings indicate that the SiCET supports nurses in their dialogue with parents on children's ETS exposure at CHC. There is a need for more clinical use and evaluation of the SiCET to determine its usefulness in clinical practice under varying circumstances.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-11-113
PMCID: PMC3267672  PMID: 22172056
17.  Parents’ experiences of participating in an intervention on tobacco prevention in Child Health Care 
BMC Pediatrics  2014;14:69.
Background
Child health care is an important arena for tobacco prevention in Sweden. The aim of this study was to describe parents’ experiences from participating in a nursebased tobacco prevention intervention.
Methods
Eleven parents were interviewed using semi-structured interviews. The material was analysed in a qualitative content analysis process.
Results
The analysis emerged four categories; Receiving support, Respectful treatment, Influence on smoking habits and Receiving information. The parents described how the CHC nurses treated them with support and respect. They described the importance of being treated with respect for their autonomy in their decisions about smoking. They also claimed that they had received little or no information about health consequences for children exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). The findings also indicate that both the questionnaire used and the urine-cotinine test had influenced parents’ smoking.
Conclusion
The clinical implication is that CHC is an important arena for preventive work aiming to minimize children’s tobacco smoke exposure. CHC nurses can play an important role in tobacco prevention but should be more explicit in their communication with parents about tobacco issues. The SiCET was referred to as an eye-opener and can be useful in the MI dialogues nurses perform in order to support parents in their efforts to protect their children from ETS.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-14-69
PMCID: PMC3975308  PMID: 24612749
18.  Number of siblings, birth order, and childhood overweight: a population-based cross-sectional study in Japan 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:766.
Background
Although several studies have investigated the relationship between the number of siblings or birth order and childhood overweight, the results are inconsistent. In addition, little is known about the impact of having older or younger siblings on overweight among elementary schoolchildren. The present population-based study investigated the relationship of the number of siblings and birth order with childhood overweight and evaluated the impact of having younger or older siblings on childhood overweight among elementary schoolchildren in Japan.
Methods
Subjects comprised fourth-grade schoolchildren (age, 9–10 years) in Ina Town during 1999–2009. Information about subjects’ sex, age, birth weight, birth order, number of siblings, lifestyle, and parents’ age, height, and weight was collected by a self-administered questionnaire, while measurements of subjects’ height and weight were done at school. Childhood overweight was defined according to age- and sex-specific cut-off points proposed by the International Obesity Task Force. A logistic regression model was used to calculate the odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) of "number of siblings" or "birth order" for overweight.
Results
Data from 4026 children were analyzed. Only children (OR: 2.13, 95% CI: 1.45-3.14) and youngest children (1.56, 1.13-2.16) significantly increased ORs for overweight compared with middle children. A larger number of siblings decreased the OR for overweight (P for trend < 0.001). Although there was no statistically significant relationship between a larger number of older siblings and overweight, a larger number of younger siblings resulted in a lower OR for overweight (P for trend < 0.001).
Conclusions
Being an only or youngest child was associated with childhood overweight, and having a larger number of younger siblings was negatively associated with overweight. The present study suggests that public health interventions to prevent childhood overweight need to focus on children from these family backgrounds.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-766
PMCID: PMC3509397  PMID: 22966779
Sibling; Birth-order; Childhood overweight; Public health
19.  The Double Burden of Obesity and Malnutrition in a Protracted Emergency Setting: A Cross-Sectional Study of Western Sahara Refugees 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(10):e1001320.
Surveying women and children from refugee camps in Algeria, Carlos Grijalva-Eternod and colleagues find high rates of obesity among women as well as many undernourished children, and that almost a quarter of households are affected by both undernutrition and obesity.
Background
Households from vulnerable groups experiencing epidemiological transitions are known to be affected concomitantly by under-nutrition and obesity. Yet, it is unknown to what extent this double burden affects refugee populations dependent on food assistance. We assessed the double burden of malnutrition among Western Sahara refugees living in a protracted emergency.
Methods and Findings
We implemented a stratified nutrition survey in October–November 2010 in the four Western Sahara refugee camps in Algeria. We sampled 2,005 households, collecting anthropometric measurements (weight, height, and waist circumference) in 1,608 children (6–59 mo) and 1,781 women (15–49 y). We estimated the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM), stunting, underweight, and overweight in children; and stunting, underweight, overweight, and central obesity in women. To assess the burden of malnutrition within households, households were first classified according to the presence of each type of malnutrition. Households were then classified as undernourished, overweight, or affected by the double burden if they presented members with under-nutrition, overweight, or both, respectively.
The prevalence of GAM in children was 9.1%, 29.1% were stunted, 18.6% were underweight, and 2.4% were overweight; among the women, 14.8% were stunted, 53.7% were overweight or obese, and 71.4% had central obesity. Central obesity (47.2%) and overweight (38.8%) in women affected a higher proportion of households than did GAM (7.0%), stunting (19.5%), or underweight (13.3%) in children. Overall, households classified as overweight (31.5%) were most common, followed by undernourished (25.8%), and then double burden–affected (24.7%).
Conclusions
The double burden of obesity and under-nutrition is highly prevalent in households among Western Sahara refugees. The results highlight the need to focus more attention on non-communicable diseases in this population and balance obesity prevention and management with interventions to tackle under-nutrition.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Good nutrition is essential for human health and survival. Insufficient food intake causes under-nutrition, which increases susceptibility to infections; intake of too much or inappropriate food, in particular in interaction with sedentary behaviour, can lead to obesity, which increases the risk of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes. During the past 30 years, the prevalence (the proportion of a population affected by a condition) of obesity has greatly increased, initially among adults in industrialized countries, but more recently among children and in less-affluent populations. Now, worldwide, overweight people outnumber under-nourished people. Furthermore, some populations are affected by both under-nutrition and obesity, forms of malnutrition that occur when the diet is suboptimal for health. So, for example, a child can be both stunted (short for his or her age, an indicator of long-term under-nutrition) and overweight (too heavy for his or her age). The emergence of this double burden of malnutrition has been attributed to the nutrition transition—the rapid move because of migration or urbanization to a lifestyle characterized by low levels of physical activity and high consumption of refined, energy-dense foods—without complete elimination of under-nutrition.
Why Was This Study Done?
Refugees are one group of people in whom under-nutrition and obesity sometimes coexist. Worldwide, in 2010, 15.4 million refugees were dependent on host governments and international humanitarian agencies for their food security and well-being. It is essential that these governments and organizations provide appropriate food assistance programs to refugees—policies that are appropriate during acute emergencies may not be appropriate in protracted emergencies and may contribute to the emergence of the double burden of malnutrition among refugees. Unfortunately, the extent to which the double burden of malnutrition affects refugees in protracted emergencies is unknown. In this cross-sectional study (an investigation that looks at the characteristics of a population at a single time), the researchers assessed the double burden of malnutrition among people from Western Sahara who have been living in four refugee camps near Tindouf city, Algeria, since 1975.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used data from a 2010 survey that measured the height and weight of children and the height, weight, and waist circumference of women living in 2,005 households in the Algerian refugee camps. For the children, they estimated the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (which includes thin, “wasted” children, as indicated by a low weight for height based on the World Health Organization growth standards, and those with nutritional oedema), stunting, and underweight and overweight (low and high weight for age and gender, respectively). For the women, they estimated the prevalence of stunting, underweight (body mass index less than 18.5 kg/m2), overweight (body mass index greater than 25 kg/m2), and central obesity (a waist circumference of more than 80 cm). Among the children, 9.1% had global acute malnutrition, 29.1% were stunted, 8.6% were underweight, and 2.4% were overweight. Among the women, 14.8% were stunted, 53.7% were overweight, and 71.4% had central obesity. Notably, central obesity and overweight in women affected more households than global acute malnutrition, stunting, and underweight in children. Finally, based on whether a household included members with under-nutrition or overweight, alone or in combination, the researchers classified a third of households as overweight, a quarter as undernourished, and a quarter as affected by the double burden of malnutrition.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that there is a high prevalence of the double burden of malnutrition among households in Western Saharan refugee camps in Algeria. Although this study provides no information on men and does not investigate whether the obesity seen in these camps leads to an increased risk of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases, these findings have several important implications for the provision of food assistance and care for protracted humanitarian emergencies. For example, they highlight the need to promote long-term food security and to improve nutrition adequacy and food diversity in protracted emergencies. In addition, they suggest that current food assistance programs that are suitable for acute emergencies may not be suitable for extended emergencies. They also highlight the need to focus more attention on non-communicable diseases in refugee camps and to develop innovative ways to provide obesity prevention and management in these settings. However, as the researchers stress, careful policy and advocacy work is essential to ensure that efforts to deal with the threat of obesity among refugees do not jeopardize support for life-saving food assistance programs for refugees.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001320.
Wikipedia provides background information about the Western Sahara refugee camps near Tindouf, Algeria (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of nutrition and obesity (in several languages)
The United Nations World Food Programme is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide; its website provides detailed information about hunger and information about its work in the Western Sahara refugee camps in Algeria, including personal stories and photographs of food distribution
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is the United Nations body mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide; its website provides detailed information about its work in the Western Sahara refugee camps in Algeria
Oxfam also provides detailed information about its work in the Algerian refugee camps, a description of the camps, and personal stories from people living in the camps
An article published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations explains the double burden of malnutrition
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001320
PMCID: PMC3462761  PMID: 23055833
20.  Determinants of (sustained) overweight and complaints in children and adolescents in primary care: the DOERAK cohort study design 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:70.
Background
Almost half of the adult Dutch population is currently overweight and the prevalence of overweight children is rising at alarming rates as well. Obese children consult their general practitioner (GP) more often than normal weight children. The Dutch government has assigned a key role to the GP in the prevention of overweight.
The DOERAK cohort study aims to clarify differences between overweight and non-overweight children that consult the GP; are there differences in number of consultations and type and course of complaints? Is overweight associated with lower quality of life or might this be influenced by the type of complaint? What is the activity level of overweight children compared to non-overweight children? And is (sustained) overweight of children associated with parameters related to the energy balance equation?
Methods/Design
A total of 2000 overweight (n = 500) and non-overweight children (n = 1500) aged 2 to 18 years who consult their GP, for any type of complaint in the South-West of the Netherlands are included.
At baseline, height, weight and waist circumference are measured during consultation. The number of GP consultations over the last twelve months and accompanying diagnoses are acquired from the medical file. Complaints, quality of life and parameters related to the energy balance equation are assessed with an online questionnaire children or parents fill out at home. Additionally, children or parents keep a physical activity diary during the baseline week, which is validated in a subsample (n = 100) with an activity monitor. Parents fill out a questionnaire about demographics, their own activity behaviour and perceptions on dietary habits and activity behaviour, health and weight status of their child. The physical and lifestyle behaviour questions are repeated at 6, 12 and 24 months follow-up.
The present study is a prospective observational cohort in a primary care setting.
Discussion
The DOERAK cohort study is the first prospective study that investigates a large cohort of overweight and non-overweight children in primary care. The total study population is expected to be recruited by 2013, results will be available in 2015.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-13-70
PMCID: PMC3437208  PMID: 22824438
21.  Dental neglect as a marker of broader neglect: a qualitative investigation of public health nurses’ assessments of oral health in preschool children 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:370.
Background
Child neglect is a pernicious child protection issue with adverse consequences that extend to adulthood. Simultaneously, though it remains prevalent, childhood dental caries is a preventable disease. Public health nurses play a pivotal role in assessing oral health in children as part of general health surveillance. However, little is known about how they assess dental neglect or what their thresholds are for initiating targeted support or instigating child protection measures. Understanding these factors is important to allow improvements to be made in care pathways.
Methods
We investigated public health nurses’ assessment of oral health in preschool children in relation to dental neglect and any associations they make with child neglect more broadly. A qualitative study was conducted in Scotland during 2011/12. Sixteen public health nurses were recruited purposively from one health region. Individual, semi-structured interviews were undertaken and data were analyzed inductively using a framework approach. Categories were subsequently mapped to the research questions.
Results
Public health nurses assess oral health through proxy measures, opportunistic observation and through discussion with parents. Dental neglect is rarely an isolated issue that leads on its own to child protection referral. It tends to be other presenting issues that initiate a response. Threshold levels for targeted support were based on two broad indicators: social issues and concerns about child (and parental) dental health. Thresholds for child protection intervention were untreated dental caries or significant dental pain. Barriers to intervention are that dental neglect may be ‘unseen’ and ‘unspoken’. The study revealed a communication gap in the care pathway for children where a significant dental problem is identified.
Conclusions
Public health nurses take their child protection role seriously, but rarely make a link between dental caries and child neglect. Clear guidance on oral health assessment is required for public health nurses. Establishing formal communication pathways between child dental care providers and public health nurses may help close gaps in care pathways. However, further research is required into how these communication mechanisms can be improved.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-370
PMCID: PMC3641996  PMID: 23601415
Children; Dental; Neglect; Nurse; Oral; Public health; Qualitative; Threshold
22.  Australian GPs' perceptions about child and adolescent overweight and obesity the Weight of Opinion study 
Background
GPs can potentially play a significant role in assessing weight status, providing advice, and making referrals to address overweight and obesity and its consequences among children and adolescents.
Aim
To investigate the perceptions of GPs about overweight and obesity in children and adolescents, including the extent to which they perceive it as a concern, the factors they see as causal, what actions they consider might be needed, and their sense of responsibility and self-efficacy.
Design of study
A cross-sectional qualitative study of GPs' perceptions.
Setting
General practice and primary health care services in the state of New South Wales, Australia.
Method
Focus groups using a structured protocol were conducted with samples of GPs. Groups comprised a mix of male and female GPs from a range of cultural backgrounds and working in practices in low, medium and high socioeconomic areas. Data were recorded and transcribed. Content analysis was used to identify key themes.
Results
Many GPs are concerned about the increasing prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity. They are committed to dealing with the medical consequences, but are aware of the broad range of social causes. GPs perceived that parents are sensitive about this topic, making it difficult for them to raise the issue directly in clinical practice, unless they use lateral strategies. GPs were confident about providing advice, with some managing the problem independently, while others preferred to refer to specialised services. GPs perceived that there were significant barriers to patient compliance with advice.
Conclusion
Whereas some GPs manage patients' lifestyle change directly, including children's weight management, others prefer to refer. Programmes, service delivery systems, and resources to support both approaches are required.
PMCID: PMC2034172  PMID: 17263929
adolescents; child health; obesity; primary health care
23.  Primary prevention of overweight in preschool children, the BeeBOFT study (breastfeeding, breakfast daily, outside playing, few sweet drinks, less TV viewing): design of a cluster randomized controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:974.
Background
Two overweight prevention interventions were developed to be offered by preventive Youth Health Care (YHC) in addition to the currently applied overweight prevention protocol to parents of 0-3 year old children. The two interventions aim to support parents of preschool children to realize healthy child nutrition and activity behaviors of their young child. The aim of this study is to assess the effects of the two overweight prevention interventions with regard to child health behaviors and child Body Mass Index.
Methods/Design
A cluster randomized controlled trial was conducted among parents and their preschool children who attend one of 51 participating YHC teams. The teams were randomly allocated to one of the two intervention groups, or to the control group (care as usual).
The ‘BBOFT+’ intervention focuses on effective child rearing by parents from birth onwards by enlarging parental skills concerning healthy behavioural life-style habits. Parents who are allocated to the ‘E-health4Uth Healthy toddler’ intervention group, at the child age of circa 18 and 24 months old, are invited to complete an online E-health module providing tailored health education regarding healthy child nutrition and activity behaviors. The E-health messages are discussed and reinforced during the subsequent regularly scheduled visits by YHC professionals, and were repeated after 4 weeks.
The primary outcome measures at child age 3 years are: overweight inducing/reducing behaviors, (for ‘BBOFT+’ only) healthy sleep, Body Mass Index and prevalence of overweight and obesity. Secondary outcome measures are attitudes and other cognitive characteristics of the parents regarding the overweight-related behaviors of their child, parenting styles and practices, and health-related quality of life of the children.
Discussion
We hypothesize that the use of the additional interventions will result in a healthier lifestyle of preschool children and an improved BMI and less development of overweight and obesity compared to usual care.
Trial registration
Nederlands Trial Register NTR1831.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-974
PMCID: PMC3840600  PMID: 24138805
24.  Nurses’ lifestyle behaviours, health priorities and barriers to living a healthy lifestyle: a qualitative descriptive study 
BMC Nursing  2014;13(1):38.
Background
Nurses have an increased risk for non-communicable diseases (NCDs), along with a high prevalence of obesity, poor eating habits and insufficient physical activity. The aim of this study was to determine the health concerns, health priorities and barriers to living a healthy lifestyle among nurses and hospital management staff from public hospitals in the Western Cape Metropole, South Africa.
Methods
Participants were purposively sampled (n = 103), and included management personnel (n = 9), night shift (n = 57) and day-shift nurses (n = 36). Twelve focus groups (FGDs) were conducted with nursing staff to obtain insight into nurses’ health concerns, lifestyle behaviours and worksite health promotion programmes (WHPPs). Seven key informant interviews (KII) were conducted with management personnel, to gain their perspective on health promotion in the worksite. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data with the assistance of Atlas.ti Qualitative Data Analysis Software.
Results
Night shift nurses frequently identified weight gain and living with NCDs such as hypertension as their main health concerns. Being overweight was perceived to have a negative impact on work performance. All nurses identified backache and exposure to tuberculosis (TB) as occupation-related health concerns, and both management and nurses frequently reported a stressful working environment. Nurses frequently mentioned lack of time to prepare healthy meals due to long working hours and being overtired from work. The hospital environment was perceived to have a negative influence on the nurses’ lifestyle behaviours, including food service that offered predominantly unhealthy foods. The most commonly delivered WHPPs included independent counselling services, an online employee wellness programme offered by the Department of Health and wellness days in which clinical measures, such as blood glucose were measured. Nurses identified a preference for WHPPs that provided access to fitness facilities or support groups.
Conclusions
Public hospitals are a stressful work environment and shift work places an additional strain on nurses. The risk of NCDs and exposure to infectious disease remains a concern in this working population. Our findings highlight the need for WHPPs that support nurses in managing stress and transforming the work environment to facilitate healthy lifestyles.
doi:10.1186/s12912-014-0038-6
PMCID: PMC4264254  PMID: 25506262
Nurses’ health; Lifestyle behaviours; Perceptions; Shift workers
25.  Maternal Overweight and Obesity and Risks of Severe Birth-Asphyxia-Related Complications in Term Infants: A Population-Based Cohort Study in Sweden 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(5):e1001648.
Martina Persson and colleagues use a Swedish national database to investigate the association between maternal body mass index in early pregnancy and severe asphyxia-related outcomes in infants delivered at term.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Maternal overweight and obesity increase risks of pregnancy and delivery complications and neonatal mortality, but the mechanisms are unclear. The objective of the study was to investigate associations between maternal body mass index (BMI) in early pregnancy and severe asphyxia-related outcomes in infants delivered at term (≥37 weeks).
Methods and Findings
A nation-wide Swedish cohort study based on data from the Medical Birth Register included all live singleton term births in Sweden between 1992 and 2010. Logistic regression analyses were used to obtain odds ratios (ORs) with 95% CIs for Apgar scores between 0 and 3 at 5 and 10 minutes, meconium aspiration syndrome, and neonatal seizures, adjusted for maternal height, maternal age, parity, mother's smoking habits, education, country of birth, and year of infant birth. Among 1,764,403 term births, 86% had data on early pregnancy BMI and Apgar scores. There were 1,380 infants who had Apgar score 0–3 at 5 minutes (absolute risk  = 0.8 per 1,000) and 894 had Apgar score 0–3 at 10 minutes (absolute risk  = 0.5 per 1,000). Compared with infants of mothers with normal BMI (18.5–24.9), the adjusted ORs (95% CI) for Apgar scores 0–3 at 10 minutes were as follows: BMI 25–29.9: 1.32 (1.10–1.58); BMI 30–34.9: 1.57 (1.20–2.07); BMI 35–39.9: 1.80 (1.15–2.82); and BMI ≥40: 3.41 (1.91–6.09). The ORs for Apgar scores 0–3 at 5 minutes, meconium aspiration, and neonatal seizures increased similarly with maternal BMI. A study limitation was lack of data on effects of obstetric interventions and neonatal resuscitation efforts.
Conclusion
Risks of severe asphyxia-related outcomes in term infants increase with maternal overweight and obesity. Given the high prevalence of the exposure and the severity of the outcomes studied, the results are of potential public health relevance and should be confirmed in other populations. Prevention of overweight and obesity in women of reproductive age is important to improve perinatal health.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Economic, technologic, and lifestyle changes over the past 30 years have created an abundance of cheap, accessible, high-calorie food. Combined with fewer demands for physical activity, this situation has lead to increasing body mass throughout most of the world. Consequently, being overweight or obese is much more common in many high-income and low-and middle-income countries compared to 1980. Worldwide estimates put the percentage of overweight or obese adults as increasing by over 10%, between 1980 and 2008.
As being overweight becomes a global epidemic, its prevalence in women of reproductive age has also increased. Pregnant women who are overweight or obese are a cause for concern because of the possible associated health risks to both the infant and mother. Research is necessary to more clearly define these risks.
Why Was This Study Done?
In this study, the researchers investigated the complications associated with excess maternal weight that could hinder an infant from obtaining enough oxygen during delivery (neonatal asphyxia). All fetuses experience a loss of oxygen during contractions, however, a prolonged loss of oxygen can impact an infant's long-term development. To explore this risk, the researchers relied on a universal scoring system known as the Apgar score. An Apgar score is routinely recorded at one, five, and ten minutes after birth and is calculated from an assessment of heart rate, respiratory effort, and color, along with reflexes and muscle tone. An oxygen deficit during delivery will have an impact on the score. A normal score is in the range of 7–10. Body mass index (BMI) a calculation that uses height and weight, was used to assess the weight status (i.e., normal, overweight, obese) of the mother during pregnancy.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Using the Swedish medical birth registry (a database including nearly all the births occurring in Sweden since 1973) the researchers selected records for single births that took place between 1992 to 2010. The registry also incorporates prenatal care data and researchers further selected for records that included weight and height measurement taken during the first prenatal visit. BMI was calculated using the weight and height measurement. Based on BMI ranges that define weight groups as normal, overweight, and obesity grades I, II, and III, the researchers analyzed and compared the number of low Apgar scoring infants (Apgar 0–3) in each group. Mothers with normal weight gave birth to the majority of infants with Apgar 0–3. In comparison the proportion of low Apgar scores were greater in babies of overweight and obese mothers. The researchers found that the rates of low Apgar scores increased with maternal BMI: the authors found that rates of low Apgar score at 5 minutes increased from 0.4 per 1,000 among infants of underweight women (BMI <18.5) to 2.4 per 1,000 among infants of women with obesity class III (BMI ≥40). Furthermore, overweight (BMI 25.0–29.9) was associated with a 55% increased risk of low Apgar scores at 5 minutes; obesity grade I (BMI 30–34.9) and grade II (BMI 35.0–39.9) with an almost 2-fold and a more than 2-fold increased risk, respectively; and obesity grade ΙΙΙ (BMI ≥40.0) with a more than 3-fold increase in risk. Finally, maternal overweight and obesity also increase the risks for seizures and meconium aspiration in the neonate.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the risk of experiencing an oxygen deficit increases for the babies of women who are overweight or obese. Given the high prevalence of overweight and obesity in many countries worldwide, these findings are important and suggest that preventing women of reproductive age from becoming overweight or obese is therefore important to the health of their children.
A limitation of this study is the lack of data on the effects of clinical interventions and neonatal resuscitation efforts that may have been performed at the time of birth. Also Apgar scoring is based on five variables and a low score is not the most direct way to determine if the infant has experienced an oxygen deficit. However, these findings suggest that early detection of perinatal asphyxia is particularly relevant among infants of overweight and obese women although more studies are necessary to confirm the results in other populations.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001648.
The US National Institutes of Health explains and calculates body mass index
The NIH also defines the Apgar scoring system
The United Kingdom's National Health Service has information for pregnant woman who are overweight
The UK-based Overseas Development Institute discusses how changes in diet have led to a worldwide health crisis in its “Future Diets” publication
Information about the Swedish health care system is available
Information in English is available from the National Board of Health and Welfare in Sweden
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001648
PMCID: PMC4028185  PMID: 24845218

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