Chapter 9 - The Social, Cultural, and Familial Contexts Contributing to Childhood Obesity

Elsevier, Global Perspectives on Childhood Obesity (Second Edition), Current Status, Consequences and Prevention, 2019, Pages 105-116
Cathy Banwell, Jane Dixon

Rising levels of childhood obesity over the last half-century signal massive sociocultural changes. These, in tandem, with other worldwide transformations, such as increased urbanization, economic growth, modernization, and globalization of food markets, have contributed to an almost universal acceleration in the prevalence of obesity in adult and child populations. Across different societies and groups, cultural factors play a strong role in influencing values and preferences concerning body size, culinary culture, and physical activity practices for both adults and children. In some developing and developed countries, three sociocultural trends operate at the family level: (1) time pressure or busyness, (2) the value of convenience, and (3) child-centered parenting have been identified as important contributors to childhood obesity. These interactive trends have influenced family practices and preferences with impacts on children's weight. Furthermore, the food environment increasingly makes unhealthy obesogenic foods available, affordable, and accessible to children. Although responses are frequently targeted at the individual and family level, governments, in partnerships with other sectors, should give serious policy consideration to these trends.