Risk factors for obesity in preschool-aged children in China

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To examine the relationship between child, mother, and environmental factors and increased body mass index in preschool-aged children in China.


There are about 120 million children in China are classified as overweight or obese. Understanding the key factors associated with childhood obesity (i.e. child, mother and environment) is the first step in combating the growing obesity epidemic in China, as well as in the global community, where large numbers of Chinese immigrants can be found.


A cross-sectional design was used. Each child's weight and height were measured by trained assistants, whereas mothers were asked to complete several questionnaires including family demographic, family eating and activity habit and child feeding practices. Mothers also reported their own as well as the father's height, weight and waist circumference. Linear regression models were used.


The overweight and obesity prevalence was 22% for children, 7% for mothers and 82% for fathers. Children spent an average of 1.2 h (72 min) engaged in physical activities and 0.76 h (46 min) in sedentary time including TV watching or computer and video games playing per day. Factors associated with a child's higher body mass index included maternal beliefs regarding the child's susceptibility to obesity, their own susceptibility to obesity, a child's more advanced age and more unhealthy food stimulus exposure at home.


Because a mother's health behaviours may influence their child's health behaviours and they are a crucial model for the family and children, childhood obesity prevention needs to include mothers and focus on building a healthy home environment for the family.

Implications for nursing and health policy

Understanding factors associated with childhood obesity can assist researchers and clinicians to develop culturally sensitive and evidence-based programmes and policy to reduce this global epidemic.

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