“Understanding the health practices and parental response of children from diverse cultural backgrounds may help researchers develop culturally appropriate parenting intervention and prevention programs targeting childhood obesity.” – Dianna Boone
Every year, the Hogg Foundation gives the Frances Fowler Wallace Memorial Award for Mental Health Dissertation Research to eligible doctoral candidates at institutions of higher education in Texas. Awardees receive a $1,500 scholarship to help cover research-related expenses.
Dianna Boone, a doctoral student studying Clinical Psychology at Texas Tech University, received the award in 2018. We recently talked with Boone about the aims, methods, and contexts of her research project:
Hogg Foundation: Your study is titled, “Family Functioning, Parent Feeding Practices and Attitudes, and Youth Weight Status in a Latino Sample.” What led you to take a professional interest in this topic?
Dianna Boone: Pediatric obesity has always been a strong research and clinical interest of mine. I’m interested in how family dynamics and parenting behaviors are related to children’s weight status, as well as dietary and physical activity behaviors. Disparities in the prevalence of pediatric obesity also interest me—in particular, how rates of obesity prevalence are disproportionately higher among Latino children.
My goal in formulating this study was to combine both these interests and examine how family dynamics and parent feeding practices affect youth weight status in Latino children.
Hogg Foundation: What questions are you trying to answer with this research?
Boone: The study examines parent-feeding practices as something that significantly explains the relations between family functioning and child weight status. Additionally, this study examines parent feeding attitudes—including parent perception and concern about their child’s weight—as something that weakens the strength of the relationship between family functioning and parent feeding practices.
Hogg Foundation: How do you think your research methods and approach will help you answer the questions you’re posing?
Boone: Three separate models of moderated mediation will be used to examine the direct and indirect effects of family functioning variables (e.g., family cohesion and family conflict) on Latino youths’ weight status. The feeding practices of parents (e.g., restriction, pressure to eat, and monitoring) are proposed mediators. Parent feeding attitudes (e.g., perceived child weight and concern regarding child weight) will be examined as moderators between each family functioning variable and parent feeding practice variable.
Hogg Foundation: What, from your perspective, is the biggest area of need—or the greatest opportunity—related to this topic? In other words, how could we really move the needle on this front?
Boone: There is currently limited research that explains how family dynamics affect youth weight status in Latino families. Although previous research has generally demonstrated that family functioning is associated with the parenting styles of Latino caregivers, what remains unclear is how family functioning affects parenting practices relative to youths’ weight status. The study will therefore address these gaps in the literature.
My findings may highlight the importance of focusing on family functioning and parent feeding practices in the context of pediatric weight management. Additionally, understanding the health practices and family dynamics of children from diverse cultural backgrounds may help researchers develop culturally appropriate parenting interventions and prevention programs targeting childhood obesity.
Boone recommends the following related resource: