Childhood Obesity: Caregivers' Perceptions, Attitudes and Behaviors Related to Physical Activity and Inactivity

Mozhdeh B. Bruss, Western Michigan University


The purpose of this study was to investigate primary caregivers' perceptions, attitudes and behaviors related to physical activity and inactivity among 6-10 year old children in order to better understand factors related to childhood obesity. This exploratory study used qualitative methods to identify sociocultural and familial factors related to physical activity and inactivity among different Asian/Pacific Island groups resident in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Results suggest that among caregivers there are distinct sociocultural beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors related to physical activity and inactivity. Gender differences were observed with relation to caregivers' perceptions of physical activity. Benefits and disadvantages of physical inactivity were highlighted by the caregivers. Caregivers held the view that children need other children to stay physically active. Different groups offered different meaning for weight normalcy, physical activity and inactivity. Familial differences were observed among groups, with regards to preventive strategies related to childhood obesity and factors that influence understanding of weight status. With regards to community support for the prevention of childhood obesity, caregivers perceived environmental changes as a necessary condition for increasing physical activity among families. Additionally, the need for nutrition education programs that offer awareness and skill-building workshops in bringing about food-related behavior modification among families was also identified.