Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Health and Nutritional Sciences

First Advisor

Lacey McCormack


Child Obesity, Child Overweight, Nutrition Behaviors, Parent Behaviors, Pre-school aged children, Role Modeling


OBJECTIVE: Parents have been proven to shape their children’s health through their growing years.1-6 Extensive research has been done on the correlation between adolescent’s health status and parent’s role modeling behaviors. However, little research has been done in preschool-aged children. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine if parenting style with food and meal behaviors was associated with body mass index (BMI) and weight status in preschool-aged children (3-5 years).
METHODS: This study is a part of South Dakota State University’s iGrow Readers study. For this study, a total of 229 child/parent dyads participated from 14 recruited daycare centers across the Midwest. All heights and weights were recorded at pre-, post-, and follow-up data collection points. At pre-assessment, parents were given the Parent Survey, which contained information regarding their demographic and nutrition lifestyle.
RESULTS: A total of 194 parents completed section I, which contained information regarding nutrition-related parent role modeling behaviors, in the Parent Survey. The average child age was 3.6 years. Characteristics of parents included predominantly mothers (83.5%) with an average age of 34.27 years with an Associate’s/Bachelor’s degree (51.2%) making over $60,00 a year (76.1%). No significance was found between parent role modeling behaviors and child weight status. However, few positive role modeling behaviors were reported by parents within the survey. Three of the most commonly reported negative behaviors include eating while angry (86.5%), eating from the pan (86.5%), and consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (75%).
CONCLUSION: Although no significant association was found between parent role modeling nutrition behaviors and preschool-aged child’s weight status, this study does show the most frequently modeled nutrition behaviors that may have a negative influence on their child’s health. Further research is needed upon this topic and the long-term implications of these modeling behaviors.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Preschool children -- Nutrition.
Parents -- Nutrition.
Obesity in children.
Role models.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 17-21)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University

Van_Heek-Nicole-2018-PACLA.pdf (186 kB)
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Rights Statement

In Copyright