Despite emerging research about the role of the family and home environment on early childhood obesity, little is known on how weight-related behaviors, parent practices and the home environment influence overweight/obesity in older children and adolescents.
This analysis used data from a cross-sectional, representative population survey of Australian children age 5–16 years conducted in 2015. Data included measured anthropometry to calculate body mass index (BMI; kg/m2) and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR; waist circumference/height). Information on home-based weight-related behaviors (individual eating and screen time behaviors, parent influences including rules and home environment factors) were measured using established short questions, with parental proxy reporting for children in up to grade 4, and self-report for students in grades 6, 8 and 10. Logistic regression models were used to examine associations between weight status and home-based weight-related behaviors.
Both children and adolescents who did not consume breakfast daily were more likely to be overweight/obese OR (95% CI) = 1.39 (1.07–1.81) p = 0.015, OR (95% CI) =1.42 (1.16–1.74) p = 0.001, respectively, adjusted for age, gender, socio-economic status, rural/urban residence and physical activity. There was also a significant positive association with higher waist-to-height ratio in both children and adolescents. Among children, having a TV in the bedroom was also associated with overweight and obesity OR (95% CI) = 1.54 (1.13–2.09) p = 0.006 and higher waist-to-height ratio. For adolescents, parenting practices such as having no rules on screen-time, OR (95% CI) = 1.29 (1.07–1.55) p = 0.008, and rewarding good behavior with sweets, OR (95% CI) = 2.18 (1.05–4.52) p = 0.036, were significant factors associated with overweight and obesity. The prevalence of these obesogenic behaviors were higher in certain sub-groups of children and adolescents, specifically those from social disadvantage and non-English-speaking backgrounds.
Interventions to reduce the prevalence of obesity and overweight should include promoting daily breakfast, reducing screen-time, and encouraging health-promoting parenting practices. Interventions should particularly focus on those at some social disadvantage and from non-English-speaking backgrounds.