Family Resiliency: A Neglected Perspective in Addressing Obesity in Young Children

Madeleine Sigman-Grant, Jenna Hayes, Angela Vanbrackle, Barbara Fiese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Traditional research primarily details child obesity from a risk perspective. Risk factors are disproportionately higher in children raised in poverty, thus negatively influencing the weight status of low-income children. Borrowing from the field of family studies, the concept of family resiliency might provide a unique perspective for discussions regarding childhood obesity, by helping to identify mediating or moderating protective mechanisms that are present within the family context. Methods: A thorough literature review focusing on (1) components of family resiliency that could be related to childhood obesity and (2) factors implicated in childhood obesity beyond those related to energy balance was conducted. We then conceptualized our perspective that understanding resiliency within an obesogenic environment is warranted. Results: Both family resiliency and childhood obesity prevention rely on the assumptions that (1) no one single answer can address the multifactorial nature involved with adopting healthy lifestyle behaviors and (2) the pieces in this complex puzzle will differ between families. Yet, there are limited holistic studies connecting family resiliency measures and childhood obesity prevention. Combining mixed methodology using traditional measures (such as general parenting styles, feeding styles, and parent feeding behaviors) with potential family resiliency measures (such as family routines, family stress, family functioning, and family structure) might serve to broaden understanding of protective strategies. Conclusions: The key to future success in child obesity prevention and treatment may be found in the application of the resiliency framework to the exploration of childhood obesity from a protective perspective focusing on the family context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)664-673
Number of pages10
JournalChildhood Obesity
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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