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The Role of Family in Childhood Obesity


Childhood obesity is a public health problem that has been increased during the last decades. Families and healthcare providers develop numerous interventions in order to provide their children with a chance to avoid obesity complications. This research proposal aims at discussing the steps of future research in terms of which a family-based educational intervention can be introduced to prove the effectiveness of family involvement in obesity treatment.

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Family habits, lifestyles, medications, and the quality of parenting may determine the growth and development of a child and the presence or absence of weight problems in life. Family relationships cannot be ignored in health, and it is expected to prove the role of family in childhood obesity is integral because parents or other caregivers have a certain impact on child’s understanding of the world and health promotion importance through everyday activities and decision making.

This research proposal aims at providing the details for future research about the role of family in childhood obesity as a public health issue that has to be discussed and improved due to effective and easy-to-complete interventions. In this part of the work, I am going to identify the main steps of research, clarify what has been already known on the chosen topic and what interventions have been already implemented in different communities, and explain why this research is worth attention and development.



Childhood obesity is a serious public health problem that bothers millions of American citizens and continues increasing with time, despite the attempts to stop or, at least, prevent it (Aly, 2014; Cunningham, Kramer, & Narayan, 2014). It is important to understand its main drivers and investigate what factors have to be recognized for its prevention and what factors have to be avoided to protect children, including the choice of a lifestyle, diets, personal habits, and family traditions (Datar, 2017; Kalra, de Sousa, Sonavane, & Shah, 2012).

Many modern researchers develop their studies to prove the connection between childhood obesity and the possible impact of families, considering their incomes, size, and the intentions to participate in different educational programs and interventions (Jalali, Sharafi-Azarzaman, Rahmandad, & Ammerman, 2016; Jo, 2014; Johnson, Li, Kuh, & Hardy, 2015). Family-based interventions can be developed in many different ways and involve a different number of people.

However, the worth of all these interventions is to provide people with hope and a good plan on how to modify parental behaviors (Berge et al., 2014; Chen, Kao, Hsu, Wang, & Hsu, 2015; Khanal et al., 2015). Such interventions usually focus on the evaluation of different psychological factors, behavioral needs, and personal expectations of what can be offered by an expert and what is actually supported by family members. Family involvement is a crucial factor in treatment, and childhood obesity may be treated regarding the effects of family involvement.

Research Goal, Questions, Hypothesis, and Importance

The main goal of this research is to investigate how an educational intervention with families may influence childhood obesity incidence in the United States. It is not enough to introduce an intervention and prove its importance. It is necessary to compare patient’s behaviors and physiological changes among obese children whose families make their decision to follow professional guidelines, participate in different programs, and consider the opinions and knowledge of nurses to whose families who do not consider other’s opinions and choose their own lifestyles and norms.

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There are several research questions that have to be answered during the study. First, it is necessary to know how obesity may affect children. Second, the role of parents in childhood obesity develop should be disclosed. Then, professional help in childhood obesity treatment has to be identified to clarify what health consequences may be expected among obese children. Finally, it is necessary to know if family-based interventions can reduce the growth of obesity in children.

I will hypothesize that, as one of the most urgent public health issues in the United States, childhood obesity may be reduced in terms of a properly developed family-based intervention program where families can be educated about the threats of poor eating habits, a lack of physical exercises, and the importance of appropriate medical and psychological treatment. The role of family is crucial in any treatment process. People should know that if there is a chance to reduce the incidence or the level of consequences of obesity in children, they should use it and create appropriate conditions for children.



To answer the main research questions and explain how an educational implementation can help families and healthcare workers deal with childhood obesity, a quasi-experimental design is chosen for consideration. It helps to evaluate the possible impact of an intervention on children who suffer from obesity, their families, and the medical staff. An intervention will last for two weeks during which a control group will be assessed and provided with a checklist to be followed to prevent childhood obesity in families and several counseling meetings that aim at educating parents about the threats of childhood obesity.

There will always be another group of families whose members miss the offered intervention program. Both groups will be assessed in terms of several important variables. The main independent variable is an educational program that is available to one group of families and unavailable to another group of families. A dependent variable is children’s BMI that have to be checked before and after the intervention. It is important to compare BMI of different groups, as well as compare them to normal rates.


For this intervention, it is expected to find a room for courses, papers and pencils for writing notes, and brochures to be offered to all participants. A researcher has to work with a PC and make all necessary notes and interpretations in an electronic form. Finally, participants should be provided with water and cookies during the intervention not to be distracted by thirst or hunger.


It is expected to develop a two-week educational program for 40 families of different races and ethnicities with obese children aged 4-12 years being invited. In addition to families, cooperation with a nurse is required to gather enough records about potential participants and have access to nursing records made between 2012 and 2017. The main inclusion criterion of the study is the presence of at least one obese children aged between 4 and 12 years.

Another important factor is that all participants should be the citizens of the United States because the scope of this study includes childhood obesity incidence in the United States only and the American style of life. There are 20 families that will be informed about obesity preventive steps and the importance to protect children in families against harmful and unhealthy food, a lack of physical exercises, and use of medications. A comparison group of 20 families with obese children will not receive the same portion of education and have to live their normal lives.

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40 families will be chosen for the intervention regarding the records offered by a nurse and randomly divided into two groups. A nurse will be provided with clear guidelines and information that has to be shared during counseling meetings. First, BMI of all children will be recorded before the intervention. During the next two weeks, the families of a control group will be visiting 1-hour-long meetings every day except Saturdays and Sundays. In general, 10 meetings with a nurse will be offered to families. In the end, BMI of all children will be evaluated and compared again.


It is expected that all 40 families will be eager to participate in a program. 20 families of a control group should visit all meetings, ask questions, and follow the instructions given by a nurse. Children have to cooperate with their families and share their opinions about the impact of their families on their lives in terms of their weight and different factors that may promote weight changes. At the end of the intervention, BMI of the children from different groups should differ. I hope to observe that the BMI of the children from a control group will be lower in comparison to a group of children whose families do not attend counseling meetings during the last two weeks.

If only slight changes are observed, it is possible to continue the same intervention during the next month, reducing the frequency of meetings up to 2-3 meetings per week. The strengths of the intervention include the possibility to talk with families about different aspects of childhood obesity, its health risks, and the steps to avoid complications. Families should not spend much money to protect their children against being obese.

The main weakness is the length of the intervention. Though childhood obesity may be prevented or reduced, it is hard to observe the results in one or more years. Therefore, it is possible to make the assessments of families in several years and interview them to clarify if they find it necessary to follow the lessons and guides given and if this information can be helpful.


Aly, E.R. (2014). Childhood obesity in the United States of America. European Scientific Journal, 3, 126-134. Web.

Berge, J.M., Rowley, S., Trofholz, A., Hanson, C., Rueter, M., MacLehose, R.F., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2014). Childhood obesity and interpersonal dynamics during family meals. Pediatrics, 134(5), 923-932. Web.

Chen, C.Y., Kao, C.C., Hsu, H.Y., Wang, R.H., & Hsu, S.H. (2015). The efficacy of a family-based intervention program on childhood obesity: A quasi-experimental design. Biological Research for Nursing, 17(5), 510-520. Web.

Cunningham, S.A., Kramer, M.R., & Narayan, K.M.V. (2014). Incidence of childhood obesity in the United States. The New England Journal of Medicine, 370(5), 403-411. Web.

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Datar, A. (2017). The more the heavier? Family size and childhood obesity in the U.S. Social Science & Medicine, 180(2017), 143-151. Web.

Jalali, M.S., Sharafi-Azarzaman, Z.S., Rahmandad, H., & Ammerman, A.S. (2016). Social influence in childhood obesity interventions: A systematic review. Obesity Reviews, 17(9), 820-832. Web.

Jo, Y. (2014). What money can buy: Family income and childhood obesity. Economics and Human Biology, 15(2014), 1-12. Web.

Johnson, W., Li, L., Kuh, D., & Hardy, R. (2015). How has the age-related process of overweight or obesity development changed over time? Coordinated analysis of individual participant data from five United Kingdom birth cohorts. PLoS Med 12(5), 1-20. Web.

Kalra, G., de Sousa, A., Sonavane, S., & Shah, N. (2012). Psychological issues in pediatric obesity. Industrial Psychiatry Journal, 21(1), 11-17. Web.

Khanal, S., Welsby, D., Lloyd, B., Innes-Hughes, C., Lukeis, S., & Rissel, C. (2015). Effectiveness of a once per week delivery of a family-based childhood obesity intervention: A cluster randomized controlled trial. Pediatric Obesity, 11(6), 475-483. Web.

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