Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Human Nutrion and Foods

Committee Chair

Cindy Fitch


Objective. The objective of this study was to determine the best predictors of childhood obesity in rural West Virginia. This investigation was inspired by the fact that the rate of obesity occurrence in West Virginia is relatively higher than that in the entire nation.;Method. Subjects used were Head Start children participating in food and nutrition program (FNP) in Mercer and McDowell counties in rural West Virginia. The average age was 52 months both Caucasians and African Americans. Study was conducted using USDA validated questionnaires that focused on the diet, feeding attitudes, beliefs and practices. Children's weights and heights were measured on site. Parents' information was by self reporting.;Results. Results indicated that the girls had a higher body mass index (BMI) than boys (p<0.01) and there was no difference between ethnicities. Mother's BMI was correlated to both boys (p= 0.0205) and girls (p= 0.034).Father's BMI was only associated with girls weight (p= 0.021). Father's influence was more profound in the lifestyle, the kind of food consumed and the overall weight of the children. Father's education was significantly correlated to the weight of the children (p= 0.024), but no significant correlation was observed in mothers' education.;Other significant correlations observed were, presence of TV in the room and weight perception, presence of TV in the room and high fat food consumed, food quality and food control exerted by parents. Fathers' education, presence of TV in the room and nutrition knowledge were good predictors of obesity in this population. Parental perception was found to be the strongest and the only significant predictor (beta= -0.489, p< 0.0001).;Conclusion. From this study it can be concluded that, for intervention to be successful, parents need to have the right perception of their children weights and understand the health dangers that overweight and obesity poses to the children.