Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Health

First Advisor's Name

Mary Shaw

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Alejandro Arrieta

Second Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Consuelo Beck-Sague

Third Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Kathryn Brogan

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Fifth Advisor's Name

H. Virginia McCoy

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

committee member


Public Health, Obesity, Childhood Obesity, Latin America, Peru, Nutrition, Physical Activity, Parents, Preschool Children

Date of Defense



Obesity and related chronic diseases are emerging public health issues among children in Peru, where more than 13 percent of children five years and younger are overweight or obese. Although parents have been identified as one of the most important determinants of healthy weight in young children, there are no known studies that have explored the perceptions of Peruvian parents regarding obesity prevention. This study assessed the nutrition and physical activity knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of Peruvian parents, and sought to determine if there is a relationship between their knowledge, attitudes and behaviors. The cross-sectional survey study sampled 204 parents of three and four-year-old children attending five preschools in a resource-poor Southern Lima setting. The Pen-3 cultural model guided the assessment of parental characteristics using the BAQ-HH survey across three domains; knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors regarding diet and physical activity. Additional data was abstracted from school records to assess children’s BMI and compare parental perceptions of child’s weight with child’s measured weight status. Parent respondents were predominantly female (86%) between 20 and 39 years old (85.1%). Less than one third (30.5%) were receiving information about nutrition or physical activity. Data was available for 147 children of the participants, 53.7 % were female with a mean age of 49.4 months and a mean BMI of 16.7. Nearly half the children (41.3%) exceeded healthy weight. Parents demonstrated healthy knowledge and behaviors, but unhealthy attitudes. Parental knowledge and attitudes were predictive of behaviors (F(2,166)=5.826, p=0.004, R2=0.066). The majority (56.6%) of Peruvian parents accurately perceived their child’s weight status but 9.6% of parents of overweight and obese children were able to do so. Understanding the nutrition and physical activity knowledge and perceptions of Peruvian preschooler parents can advance local and national health ministry and public health obesity prevention initiatives for young children.





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