Obesity is a dominant nutritional problem among children, virtually worldwide. The energy balance model indicates obesity is the result of overconsumption of calories, low levels of physical activity, and high levels of sedentary behavior, mostly high screen time (TV, videos, and videogames). Parents are critical to developing these health related behaviors in children. Parenting is a social micro-environmental influence on child behavior. Extensive parenting research has been conducted around the world, but sometimes with conflicting findings. An issue inhibiting progress in this research is th board diversity of parenting measures, some measuring similar and some very different constructs, with no common set of consensually identified priority items. The objective of this conference is to contribute to the prevention of obesity among children, by advancing the theory and psychometrics of measures of general parenting styles and specific parenting practices in regard to the major energy balance behaviors (diet, physical activity, sedentary (screen media) behaviors). This conference will be held in the Children's Nutrition Research Center in the Department of Pediatrics of the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. This will be a pre-conference to the 11th annual meeting to the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (which should attract international attendance at our preconference meeting), and will be held May 20-22, 2012. This pre-conference directly addresses the NIH priority of Childhood Obesity Prevention by addressing parenting in regard to the three major contributions to energy balance (diet, physical activity, sedentary behaviors). The pre-conference will have an immediate influence on research by leading to enhanced measures. Enhanced attention to theory and measurement of parenting will have long term benefits by delineating pathways of effects, thereby, providing guidance for interventions and understanding for education. We have designed the conference to establish post conference working groups to take the next steps in developing and validating consensus state of the art measures that can be used multiculturally and internationally.
Parenting style and practices have been related to childhood obesity and related diet, physical activity and sedentary behaviors, but there is inconsistency in what the many existing measures assess. This conference will develop a consensus on what should be included in parenting measures, and develop working groups to develop and validate such measures. The resulting measures should enhance research to understand how parents influence child obesity and give guidance to future obesity prevention interventions.