Identifying the People and Factors That Influence Children’s Intentions to Make Lifestyle Changes

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Childhood obesity and health behavior programs are increasingly a focus within literature and individual provider practices. This study was designed to inform “best practices” for establishing effective programs in the medical setting by identifying persons and factors that influence children’s willingness to be active, eat healthy, and lose weight when medically appropriate. A total of 342 child and parent dyads living in a rural setting participated in this study. Child and parent report of theory of planned behavior constructs and child intentions to lose weight, eat healthier, and increase own exercise was established as the study outcomes. Parent and child perceptions and child characteristics (e.g., weight status) were associated with children’s intentions to lose weight and obtain more exercise whereas only child perceptions were associated with children’s intentions to eat healthier. Incorporating children as young as 10 years of age in conversations and planning for diet and physical activity lifestyle changes is essential for the success of the treatment option.

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