Mal J Nutr 21(2): 139 - 154, 2015

Studying the Family Diet: An Investigation into Association Between Diet, Lifestyle and Weight Status in Malaysian Families
Yang WY', zBurrows T1, MacDonald-Wicks L1, Williams LT", Collins CE1 & Chee WSS2


Introduction: The contribution of the family environment to childhood obesity in Malaysia is not well known. This paper describes the study, methodology and results of a pilot study to assess the feasibility of conducting a study on diet and lifestyle factors among Malay primary school children and their main caregiver(s) in regard to body weight status.
Methods: The Family Diet Study used a cross-sectional design and targeted a minimum of 200 Malay families at five national primary schools in the Klang Valley, Malaysia using a multi-stage sampling method. Participants were Malay families with children aged 8 to 12 years and their main caregiver(s). Data on socio-demographic, dietary intake, parental child feeding practices, physical activity and anthropometric measures were collected predominantly at schools with follow-up 24-h dietary recalls collected by phone. Details of recruitment, inclusion criteria, assessments and statistical analyses are also discussed.
Results: Eleven families provided data by answering questionnaires, recalling diet intake and participating in anthropometric measures. The results showed overall feasibility of the study protocol but required some modifications prior to implementation of the main study. Mothers were the main parent involved in family food procurement, preparation and mealtime supervision. Snacking was not commonly reported and fruit and vegetables intakes were generally infrequent.
Conclusion: The most novel component of this study was the comprehensive collection of data from both children and their main caregiver(s) within the context of the family. Detailed information on dietary and lifestyle aspects will help to elucidate factors associated with obesity aetiology in Malay children.

Keywords: Body weight status, child, diet, family, lifestyle

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