Maternal, Child, and Parenting Factors Associated with Obesity Among Pre-Kindergarten Children in Mississippi
Background: Obesity among children and youth has been consistently assessed among public school students in Mississippi since 2005. Significant declines in the prevalence of obesity among elementary students over the past decade suggest that changes may be occurring prior to entry into public school. Purpose: The purpose was to collect anthropometric data on a weighted, representative sample of children ages 3 to 5 years in licensed childcare facilities across Mississippi, and to correlate maternal, child, and parenting characteristics to obesity. Methods: The Body Mass Index was calculated using measured height and weight data. Results: A total of 14.12% of the 1,728 children were obese. Differences were not noted by age or gender but were significant by race, with 16.73% of Black children and 9.22% of White children categorized as obese (p < 0.0001). Obesity was significantly correlated with breastfeeding, hours of sleep, hours of child’s screen time, parent’s perception of the child’s weight gain, child’s birth weight, mother’s diabetes, and type of delivery. Conclusion: These findings provide a more complete picture of children’s health and factors impacting children’s health at an early age, and they can be of great value in future policy-making efforts to address unhealthy weights among children in Mississippi.