Date of Award

1-2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Health & Physical Education

First Advisor

Dr. Basil Amarneh

Second Advisor

Dr. Huda Gharaibeh

Third Advisor

Dr. Abdulhakem Okour

Abstract

Aim: This study aims to explore parents’ perception of obesity in children and stress related to obesity during childhood period in Emirate of Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates.

Background: The prevalence of excess weight among children is increasing in both developed and developing countries. Overweight and obesity are leading cause of the most common health problems in children. The degree of parents’ perception about their child’s weight is likely to play a critical role in the development and management of childhood obesity. Greater parental perception and involvement is likely to encourage more active monitoring and controlling of child’s dietary intake, and a greater inclination to seek treatment for an obese child.

Methods: A cross-sectional comparative descriptive design was utilized to collect the data from a convenience sample of 1097 parents of children from 37 government and private primary schools in Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Al Ain city, in United Arab Emirates.

Results: Nearly 35% of parents were reported semi levels of obesity awareness, and most of the parents under estimated their children body weight, moreover parental stress level showed that about 32% of the parents had high parental stress. Around 70% of parents were very concerned about their child weight. There were a significant correlation between fathers (r=0.140, p<0.001) and mothers’ age (r=0.167, p<0.001) with children BMI, also there are correlation between fathers (r=-0.075, p<0.05) and mothers (r=-0.080, p<0.01) educational level and their children BMI, whereas there are no correlation between school category (r=0.001, p>0.05) or working mothers (r=-0.015, p>0.05) and children BMI. Parents showed high level of stress related their children’s body weight status; parents’ nationality and educational level effected their perception of obesity in children. Mothers showed higher stress than fathers due to their children weight status, parental stress levels were varied among the parents’ nationalities and level of education, children genders has no effect on parental perception level or parental stress level.

Conclusion: Most of the parents perceive and aware of the causes of the obesity and its consequences in childhood, moreover most of the parents especially female parent had experienced psychological distress regarding their children body weight status more than fathers. The involvement and support of parents is essential to the success of any intervention aimed at prevention and management of obesity in young children as long as the parents has an adequate awareness and perception of obesity in childhood. Because parents who are aware of and concerned about their child’s weight might be willing to overcome the barriers and help their children maintain or achieve a healthy weight.

Keywords: Obesity, Perception, Stress, Parents, Children, United Arab Emirates.

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