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Measures of the home environment related to childhood obesity: a systematic review

  • Courtney A Pinard (a1) (a2), Amy L Yaroch (a1), Michael H Hart (a3), Elena L Serrano (a4), Mary M McFerren (a4) and Paul A Estabrooks (a2)...

Due to a proliferation of measures for different components of the home environment related to childhood obesity, the purpose of the present systematic review was to examine these tools and the degree to which they can validly and reliably assess the home environment.


Relevant manuscripts published between 1998 and 2010 were obtained through electronic database searches and manual searches of reference lists. Manuscripts were included if the researchers reported on a measure of the home environment related to child eating and physical activity (PA) and childhood obesity and reported on at least one psychometric property.


Of the forty papers reviewed, 48 % discussed some aspect of parenting specific to food. Fifty-per cent of the manuscripts measured food availability/accessibility, 18 % measured PA availability/accessibility, 20 % measured media availability/accessibility, 30 % focused on feeding style, 23 % focused on parenting related to PA and 20 % focused on parenting related to screen time.


Many researchers chose to design new measures for their studies but often the items employed were brief and there was a lack of transparency in the psychometric properties. Many of the current measures of the home food and PA environment focus on one or two constructs; more comprehensive measures as well as short screeners guided by theoretical models are necessary to capture influences in the home on food and PA behaviours of children. Finally, the current measures of the home environment do not necessarily translate to specific sub-populations. Recommendations were made for future validation of measures in terms of appropriate psychometric testing.

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