Date of Conferral





Public Health


Jennifer Perkins


Childhood obesity has increased due to factors such as more television time, less outside play, parents' lack of education about nutritious meals, and eating more fast food versus home cooked meals. Research has been performed on many school-aged children; however, there is a gap in research as it pertains to preschool children. Preschool age learning is when children are most receptive to habit-forming activities. The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to assess the parental perceptions of 11 preschool parents in rural Northeastern North Carolina of 4-year-old children who have been told by a health care professional that their children are overweight or obese. This qualitative study used the health belief model as its theoretical foundation. Responses were manually transcribed and uploaded into NVivo 10 software. The researcher performed horizonalization of the data to determine the themes and subthemes used for data analysis. Participants revealed that they recognized childhood obesity and overweight as an issue in their child and were knowledgeable on how to combat their child's diagnosis. As a result of this research, parents revealed that working and a lack of affordable resources played viable roles in why childhood obesity and overweight exists in their children. Parents shared that they felt safe in their neighborhoods, but acknowledged that affordability of healthy foods and other family members' impact on their child's eating habits play a role in their child's weight concerns. This study will lead to positive social change by providing local public health workers with an increased understanding of the experiences of parents of overweight and obese preschool-aged children, which may assist in stronger program development for the targeted population.