Home Environment and Obesity in Preschool Children

In their article, Østbye et al. (2013) affirm that though obesity in children has an intricate etiology, the home setting controls the weight of children through shaping their physical exercise and consumption patterns. Parents facilitate physical activity at home via the creation of time for exercise, provision of convenient play spaces and apparatus, and via the norms or regulations they set for physical activity like allowing or disallowing children from playing with their peers. Children that have both participating parents show higher rates of physical activity as compared to the ones with a single or no participating parent. The home environment also influences consumption patterns. For instance, the provision of such things as vegetables and fruits at home is positively associated with the rate and quality of nutritional intake. On the contrary, the provision of unhealthy foods such as junk food can be associated with excessive energy ingestion in children.

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The policies employed by parents are also vital for the consumption patterns and encompass the number of meals per day and the number of times in a week that the family eats together at home. Moreover, the role modeling of food tastes and consumption patterns are also vital. In their childhood, children examine the consumption patterns of their parents and characteristically consume what their parents, particularly mothers, consume. Childhood experiences sometimes have a lasting influence on tastes and consumption patterns. The influence of the home environment on physical activity and consumption patterns of children is apparent (Østbye et al., 2013). The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of the home environment on the physical activity and consumption patterns and the corresponding result in children while evaluating the influence of maternal education and career. Though implicit, the research question that the authors were investigating in the study is: What is the impact of the home environment on physical exercise and consumption patterns of children?

The authors conducted the research by having overweight and obese mothers report concerning the home physical activity and consumption patterns. In this case, the outcomes encompassed child moderate-vigorous physical activity and inactivity period as obtained from accelerometer information and two nutritional aspects (healthy and junk food consumption scores) anchored in the aspect assessment of mother-accounted consumption patterns. The methods used are linear regression models that evaluated the overall impact of the home setting on the results and influence by maternal learning and occupation. The data was gathered from North Carolina between 2007 and 2011 (Østbye et al., 2013).

The results of the study were that parental policies backing physical activity enhanced moderate-vigorous physical activity time, and restrained availability of junk foods improved healthy food consumption scores. Role modeled healthy consumption patterns augmented healthy food consumption scores amid children of parents that do not have a college education. Amid children of unemployed parents that do not have a college education, restricting the availability of junk foods coupled with role modeling decreased the consumption of junk foods. Policies of parents backing eating meals together as a family enhanced the consumption of unhealthy foods. The conclusions that were made anchored in the research include the affirmation that to enhance moderate-vigorous physical activity, parental policies backing child exercise are necessary (Østbye et al., 2013). Restricted availability of junk foods and role modeling of healthy consumption patterns plays a crucial role in bettering the quality of consumption patterns.


Østbye, T., Malhotra, R., Stroo, M., Lovelady, C., Brouwer, R., Zucker, N., & Fuemmeler, B. (2013). The effect of the home environment on physical activity and dietary intake in preschool children. International Journal of Obesity, 37(10), 1314-1321.

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