To investigate the perceptions about causes and prevention of childhood obesity held by the adult public in Calgary, Canada.
Using a cross-sectional survey design, adults were recruited from a shopping mall located in a region of Calgary, Alberta characterized by mixed ethnic and socio-economic residents.
264 adults in Calgary, Canada.
Participants completed a self-administered questionnaire that involved rating the importance of 25 potential causes of obesity and 13 potential preventive measures, using a four-point Likert scale anchored by "not important" and "very important". Demographic information including age, sex, educational level, parental status, and self-reported weight and height was also collected.
Principal components analysis of questionnaire items revealed five "cause" factors ('parental responsibility', 'over-consumption and media promotion of unhealthy foods', 'misuse/overuse of modern technology', 'children's lack of knowledge and motivation', 'physical activity environment') and two "prevention" factors ('healthy public/private policy and targeted intervention', and 'media campaigns and compulsory physical education'). Tests for group differences revealed that women ranked 'over-consumption of unhealthy foods and media influence' and 'physical activity environment' as more important causes of childhood obesity than men. Additionally, persons classified as obese ranked 'misuse/overuse of modern technology' and 'healthy public/private policy and targeted intervention' as more important than those persons classified as under/normal weight.
By providing a snapshot of views held by the public regarding childhood obesity in this large Canadian city, this study offers preliminary guidance about publicly acceptable intervention strategies for use by health promotion researchers and policy-makers.