Honors Program

University Honors

Date of Award

5-2012

Thesis Professor(s)

William T. Dalton

Thesis Professor Department

Psychology

Thesis Reader(s)

Wallace E. Dixon, Karen E. Schetzina

Abstract

Pediatric obesity is a major public health crisis in the United States, and is particularly prevalent in the Southeast. Recent research has shifted the focus toward identifying obesity risk factors earlier in the lifespan, as 9.7% of infants and toddlers are at high weight-for-length (>95th percentile). Family context variables have been found to be related to infant and child weight status. A better understanding of these early contributors may facilitate the continued development of interventions for infants and toddlers at risk for obesity.

The purpose of the current study was to examine infant weight as it relates to parent-report of temperament, parenting style, and maternal feeding practices, in a sample of 18-month old children (n = 58) residing in Southern Appalachia. Mothers completed three surveys at infant age 18 months: the Early Childhood Behavior Questionnaire (ECBQ), the Parental Authority Questionnaire (PAQ), and the Infant Feeding Questionnaire (IFQ). Anthropometric data was obtained for parents and infants and contributed to body mass index (BMI) and standardized weight-for-length scores, respectively. Maternal BMI and percentile scores were obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Weight-for-length scores and percentiles were derived from infant weight and recumbent length measures using the 2006 World Health Organization (WHO) Growth Standards.

Results of bivariate correlations showed authoritarian parenting style was negatively associated with infant weight status, r(51) = -.34, p < .05. In contrast to previous findings related to early childhood, infants of authoritarian parents were found to be of lower weight status. This novel finding suggests that the role of parenting style in infancy may differ from early childhood. Further longitudinal research beginning in infancy is warranted to examine the role of these concurrent factors on later development.

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Copyright

Copyright by the authors.

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