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Family-Based Childhood Obesity and Parental Weight


The article examines the multifactorial nature of the growing health issue of childhood obesity. The authors investigate the correlation between childhood BMI and parental obesity. The authors cite empirical evidence to support their central point, which is that there exists a link between elevated parental obesity rates overweight in children. They give further evidence attributing a heightened obesity risk to a combination of environmental and genetic factors. For this reason, they suggest that family-based interventions should involve both the parents and their children. The authors have not provided the research questions guiding the study.

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One of the authors’ initial objectives was to determine the prevalence of parental obesity in households with overweight children enrolled in an intervention. The second objective was to investigate BMI changes in obese parents by comparing baseline data and post-childhood obesity intervention. They hypothesize that a family-based treatment program that had been shown to lower the obesity risk in children subjects can work for obese parents.

The results indicate that the mothers and fathers whose children enrolled in a childhood obesity intervention had a BMI decreased after the program. The average BMI reduction was “0.5 and 0.4 for mothers and fathers”, respectively (Trier et al., 2016, p. 64). Additionally, 60% and 57% of female and male parents weighed less than the baseline BMI after the intervention. Based on these results, the authors conclude that childhood obesity interventions are more effective when they are family-centered and involve parental participation. The finding that the BMI of the adult subjects decreased after the intervention informed this conclusion.

Evaluation of the Research Methods

In the article, the authors have not provided a literature review section. However, they use evidence from relevant studies to give a detailed background on the topic in the introduction section. Further, statistics on the prevalence of childhood obesity and the results of family-based interventions implemented in other clinical settings are also provided.

The research is current and relevant to contemporary health issues. The data (BMI) from the cohort were collected between 2011 and 2013 and the findings published in 2016. Childhood obesity has grown to epidemic proportions with profound implications for health spending. Childhood overweight is a risk factor for chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, which contribute to increased hospitalization rates. Also, obesity in childhood is a predictor of adulthood overweight, which is associated with low quality of life. Therefore, the issue investigated in the article, i.e., childhood obesity, is a relevant 21st-century problem.

The research type utilized in this study is the prospective cohort design. In this longitudinal approach, the subjects are monitored over a period to evaluate changes in a phenomenon of interest. The post-intervention data is compared to the baseline data to determine exposure changes. The authors followed a cohort of 1,221 children and their parents between 2007 and 2012. The subjects’ BMI was recorded throughout the intervention period. The data collected were used to test the hypothesis that a multidisciplinary childhood obesity program lowers parental obesity prevalence.

The authors used a purposive sampling method to select the child/adolescent and adult participants. Referrals made by general practitioners across the country were screened using specified inclusion criteria. Thus, the sampling strategy enhanced the internal validity of the sample. The age bracket was 3-22 years. Eligible subjects were those with a “BMI above the 90th percentile” for either gender (Trier et al., 2016, p. 66). Also, only subjects who had visited an obesity clinic at least twice before were included. The sample size (n=1,221) was large enough for determining effect sizes. It also included both male and female subjects aged between three and twenty-two. Thus, the sample was balanced and appropriate for the research.

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The research seems practical to me, as it involved recording BMI data for children enrolled in a hospital-based obesity intervention. However, the use of self-reported weight and height data to estimate parental BMI changes may have introduced errors due to possible bias by parents. Based on their results, the authors state that a family-based intervention for children could be applied in reducing obesity and cardiovascular comorbidities in parents. I believe that family-based interventions could be applied to mitigate the obesity risk factors and related cardiovascular conditions. However, the intervention should be designed to reflect the needs of the adult and children subjects.

In my opinion, the reliability of the study’s measures could have been improved through the direct measurement of parental data. The self-reported anthropometric data were prone to bias at baseline and post-intervention periods. The parents could have over- or under-estimated their weight and height, resulting in incorrect BMI values. Therefore, an objective measurement of these data is required to enhance the generalizability of the study findings. Besides, the researchers could have investigated genetic factors that increase the obesity risk in the families investigated. In this way, the confounding effect of genetics could have been eliminated.

The ‘writing’ of the article is largely clear. The authors use research evidence and statistics to build the background for the study. The study methodology, including the sampling process, is clear and straightforward. Similarly, the results are summarized in understandable tables. The discussion relates the data to similar results reported by comparable studies, strengthening the authors’ arguments. The conclusion is drawn from the results of the study. However, the literature review section is lacking, making it difficult to understand how the study’s hypothesis and objectives were derived.

This study has established a correlation between childhood obesity intervention and parental BMI change. Further research on this topic could focus on the genetic risk factors that account for elevated BMI in parents. Future studies can investigate if adult obesity interventions involving parental participants affect childhood obesity prevalence. Another dimension that could be explored is whether a family-based intervention applied to parents and children reduces obesity in the subjects. In this case, the weight change in the two groups should be compared to determine the response rate. Further, future studies should not rely on self-reports to collect anthropometric data, as this approach is prone to bias.


Childhood obesity is a serious health issue globally. Obese children have poor social and health outcomes due to obesity-related comorbidities. Interventions seek to promote healthy dietary practices and physical activity. However, genetic risk factors affect the efficacy of school-based interventions that seek to replace sugar-sweetened snacks and beverages with healthier alternatives. The findings of this article indicate that family-based interventions are beneficial to the children and parents predisposed to overweight. Thus, interventions that promote healthier practices at the household level are effective in reducing adult and childhood obesity, leading to better parental and child health outcomes.


Trier, C., Dahl, M., Stjernholm, T., Nielsen, T., Bojsoe, C., & Fonvig, C. (2016). Effects of a Family-Based Childhood Obesity Treatment Program on Parental Weight Status. PLoS ONE 11(8), 61-79.

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