Review of the Literature on Parental Efficacy and Child Nutrition, Activity, and Weight

Dr. Tanna Woods, Dr. Mary Nies


Objective: Concern over childhood obesity has driven research to focus on prevention and intervention strategies to curb the epidemic. Parental factors like efficacy have gained attention as this concept is grounded in behavioral change research. Studies have linked efficacy to improved child health behaviors like eating a more nutritious diet and engaging increased physical activity. This leads to a need to examine parental efficacy literature to examine its relationship to childhood obesity.

Methods: Six databases including the Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, CINAHL, PubMed, Psychinfo, EBSCOhost, and Onesearch were searched for original research studies examining parental efficacy and child health measures like diet, activity, or weight.

Results: Only 16 articles were found that met criteria. This limited research did showcase that higher parental efficacy levels are linked to positive effects, especially regarding improved child diet. There is also evidence of an inverse relationship between higher efficacy and lower child weights and higher efficacy and improved child activity levels, though this was not uniformly found. This review also showcased significant variance in how efficacy is measured and how it is used within studies.

Conclusion: Connections between parental efficacy and child healthy behaviors has been established in multiple studies. However, this remains an under-examined area that needs further study to understand how it can be used to improve interventions.

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