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Psychosocial, Socioeconomic, Behavioral, and Environmental Risk Factors for BMI and Overweight Among 9- to 11-Year-Old Children

2009 | California Journal of Health Promotion

This study explored the risk factors for higher BMI and overweight in 9- to 11-year-old children using the 2007 California Children’s Healthy Eating and Exercise Practices Survey.

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A total of 741 children completed a two-day food and activity diary. Of these, 299 children participated in the follow-up telephone interview, reporting attitudes and beliefs. Linear regressions identified risk factors related to BMI z-scores; logistic regressions were used for binomial overweight status. Independent variables included children’s diet, activity, screen time, food modeling, family norms/rules, home environment, poverty, and parent education, adjusting for race/ethnicity. Parent education was the strongest risk factor with a clear gradient towards reduced risk as parent education improved. Children were .3 BMI z points lower and one-third less likely to be overweight as education level rose. Each serving of fried vegetables consumed was related to .3 point increase in BMI z. Children were 1.2-1.3 times more likely to be overweight with each increase in school lunch participation.

Low-cost overweight prevention efforts targeting children with less parent education, school lunches, and consumption of fried vegetables may reduce BMI and help prevent childhood overweight. Additional investigation should determine the underlying factors contributing to the relationship between eating school lunch and overweight.