A collaborative study including Dr. Dayna Alexander, alumni of the doctor of public health in community health behavior and education, Drs. Moya Alfonso and Andrew Hansen, assistant professors of community health behavior and education at the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health Georgia Southern University examines childhood obesity perceptions among African American caregivers in a rural Georgia community. Given the pivotal role of African American caregiver’s perceptions of childhood obesity in rural areas, the inclusion of caregiver’s perceptions could potentially reduce childhood obesity rates. The objective of the current study was to explore childhood obesity perceptions among African Americans in a rural Georgia community.
[Dr. Dayna Alexander]
Caregivers had a distorted view of their child’s weight status. In addition, analysis revealed that caregivers assessed child’s weight and height measurements by the child’s appearance or a recent doctor visit. Environmental barriers reported by caregivers included safety concerns and insufficient physical activity venues and programs. Also, caregivers conveyed parents are an imperative component of preventing obesity. Although this study found caregivers were aware of obesity risk factors, health complications, built environment features, and prevention approaches, their obesity perceptions were not incorporated into school or community prevention efforts. Findings suggest that children residing in rural areas are in need of tailored efforts that address caregiver perceptions of obesity.