The Evolution of Mothers' Beliefs About Overweight and Obesity in Their Early School-Age Children_2016.pdf

OBJECTIVE: To identify changes in maternal beliefs, concerns,
and perspectives about overweight and obesity in their children
over a 2-year period.
METHODS: A total of 37 low-income English-speaking
mothers of overweight or obese children participated in 2 semistructured
interviews, separated by about 2 years. Mean child
age was 5.9 years at baseline and 8.2 years at follow-up. Mother
and child anthropometric data were obtained, and mothers
completed demographic questionnaires at both time points.
Mothers’ interviews were analyzed using the constant comparative
method for longitudinal patterns of change in their
perspectives on childhood obesity across the 2 time points.
RESULTS: Six longitudinal patterns of change in mothers’ perspectives
and beliefs were identified: 1) mothers’ identification
of a weight problem in their child emerges gradually, 2)
mothers’ level of concern about their child overeating increases,
3) mothers’ concerns about consequences of obesity intensify
and change over time, 4) mothers feel less control over their
child’s eating and weight, 5) mothers’ efforts to manage eating
and weight become more intentional, and 6) mothers are more
likely to initiate conversations about weight as their child gets
older.
CONCLUSIONS: Mothers’ concerns about children’s weight
and eating habits increased, and reported weight management
strategies became more intentional over a 2-year period. Further
research should consider attending to maternal perspectives on
child weight and eating and their evolution in the development
of family-based interventions for childhood obesity.