Predictors of body mass index in female parents whose children participate in a competitive, creative, problem-solving program

  • Naima Moustaid-Moussa University of Tennessee
  • Carol A. Costello University of Tennessee
  • Betty P. Greer University of Tennessee
  • Marsha Spence University of Tennessee
  • Eugene Fitzhugh University of Tennessee
  • Robert Muenchen University of Tennessee
  • Nishan S. Kalupahana University of Tennessee
Keywords: physical activity, nutrition epidemiology


Background: Recent findings from our research indicate that children participating in a creative afterschool program exhibit overall healthier lifestyle practices compared to the average US pediatric population. This observation led us to investigate the prevalence of overweight/obesity and lifestyle practices of their parents.

Objective: To determine the strongest predictors of weight status for female parents whose children were participating in such creative afterschool program.

Design: Surveyed subjects were parents of children who competed in the 2008 and 2009 Destination ImagiNation Global Finals in Knoxville, Tennessee. A total of 4,608 children participated in data collection, with parental consent. For the combined 2 years, 1,118 parents, 87% of whom were females (n=1,032) completed online questionnaires, which were based on the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and included self-reported height, weight, dietary intake, physical activity, and socioeconomic status. The majority of this population was white, and less than 5% were African American or Hispanic.

Results: We report here results obtained for the female parents. Only 45.2% of these female parents were overweight/obese, compared to a national average of 64.1% reported by the National Health Nutrition Examination Surveys for 2007-2008. Furthermore, this population was significantly more physically active compared to national average. Most parents (76%) had completed a college degree and reported high incomes. Parents with the lowest income were the most obese in this population. Finally, we found a significant association between parent and child weight status.

Conclusions: These studies demonstrate that female parents of children who have healthy lifestyles were physically active, which likely accounts for the parents’ lower overweight/obesity rates. In addition to physical activity, income and percentage of calories from fat were all predictors of weight status.

Keywords: physical activity; diet; health behaviors; parents; obesity; overweight; BRFSS

(Published: 16 August 2012)

Citation: Food & Nutrition Research 2012. 56: 17787 -


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How to Cite
Moustaid-Moussa N., Costello C. A., Greer B. P., Spence M., Fitzhugh E., Muenchen R., & Kalupahana N. S. (2012). Predictors of body mass index in female parents whose children participate in a competitive, creative, problem-solving program. Food & Nutrition Research.
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