BACKGROUND: The objective of this study was to explore community beliefs about the causes, consequences and potential solutions of childhood obesity. METHODS: A convenience sample of 434 adults (41.2 +/- 13.3 years; 61% parents) in New South Wales, Australia, was surveyed using a newly developed childhood obesity scale. RESULTS: Five causal (emotional eating; eating habits and food knowledge; environmental dysfunction; abundance of contemporary lifestyle; cost of contemporary lifestyle), four consequences (known consequences of obesity; behavioural consequences; social consequences; less-known physical consequences) and three potential solutions factors (parental actions; professional assistance; limiting behaviours) were identified. Parents did not differ from non-parents across the 12 factors nor were there any differences based on the level of education. There were, however, gender differences across two causal factors (emotional eating and abundance of contemporary lifestyle) and two consequences factors (behavioural consequences and social consequences), with females endorsing all four factors more strongly than males. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study suggest that this sample was aware of the complex nature of childhood obesity in terms of its causes, consequences and a range of potential solutions, but they endorsed more family rather than community-based interventions.
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