Effects of parent and child behaviours on overweight and obesity in infants and young children from disadvantaged backgrounds: systematic review with narrative synthesis

Catherine Georgina Russell, Sarah Taki, Rachel Laws, Leva Azadi, Karen J. Campbell, Rosalind Elliott, John Lynch, Kylie Ball, Rachael Taylor and Elizabeth Denney-Wilson
Publication type: 
Journal article
Stream 1 Families with young children

BMC Public Health16(1):1-13.


Background: Despite the crucial need to develop targeted and effective approaches for obesity prevention in

children most at risk, the pathways explaining socioeconomic disparity in children’s obesity prevalence remain

poorly understood.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review of the literature that investigated causes of weight gain in children

aged 0–5 years from socioeconomically disadvantaged or Indigenous backgrounds residing in OECD countries.

Major electronic databases were searched from inception until December 2015. Key words identified studies

addressing relationships between parenting, child eating, child physical activity or sedentary behaviour and

child weight in disadvantaged samples.

Results: A total of 32 articles met the inclusion criteria. The Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool quality rating for the

studies ranged from 25 % (weak) to 100 % (strong). Studies predominantly reported on relationships between

parenting and child weight (n = 21), or parenting and child eating (n = 12), with fewer (n = 8) investigating

child eating and weight. Most evidence was from socio-economically disadvantaged ethnic minority groups in

the USA. Clustering of diet, weight and feeding behaviours by socioeconomic indicators and ethnicity

precluded identification of independent effects of each of these risk factors.

Conclusions: This review has highlighted significant gaps in our mechanistic understanding of the relative

importance of different aspects of parent and child behaviours in disadvantaged population groups.


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