Background: Childhood obesity is rapidly increasing in China, with rates doubling between 2000 and 2010. Several large, epidemiological studies have shown boys to be consistently more likely to be obese than girls. The aim of this study was to investigate gender differences in the home environment and parenting practices related to childhood obesity.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey using a convenience sampling of 522 (86.1% response rate) primary caregivers of children ages 2-10 years was conducted in four locations in Nanchang, China, in the spring of 2013 using face-to-face, anonymous questionnaires.
Results: Boys were significantly (p<0.05) more likely than girls to watch more television (TV) per week, be allowed to have snacks/sweets or soft drinks without permission, and to have sugary drinks at snacks and meals. Girls were significantly more likely than boys to have parental encouragement and support for physical activity, participate in organized sports/group activities, and have fresh fruits accessible. Parents also believed that boys eat too much junk foods or their favorite foods if not controlled. Few differences were noted in the actual physical environment in the home, including access to sports equipment, junk food availability, and access to media.
Conclusions: Results indicate that parents tend to be more permissive with boys than girls, allowing them access to unhealthy foods and more TV time. These differences may contribute to the higher prevalence of obesity in boys in China.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Nutrition and Dietetics