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Objective: To document parenting stress in caregivers of treatment-seeking youth with obesity and examine whether parenting stress is a predictor of pediatric health indicators, including body mass index and weight or obesity-specific health-related quality of life.

Method: Youth (5-18 years) and their caregivers presenting to a pediatric medical weight management program initial visit completed several self-report questionnaires assessing demographics, parenting stress, and weight or obesity-specific health-related quality of life. Youth's height and weight were measured by trained clinic nurses and abstracted from the patient medical records. Study staff measured caregiver's height and weight.

Results: Participants included 120 caregivers and their youth (Mage = 11.0, 65.8% female, and 50% African-American). At treatment initiation, caregivers were primarily obese (Mbody mass index = 35.8). One fifth of caregivers of school-aged children (18%) had clinically increased levels of parenting stress, and 25% reported increased spousal discord specific to parenting. Parenting stress did not significantly predict youth body mass index. Parenting stress significantly predicted obesity-specific parent-proxy health-related quality of life for school-aged children but not self-reported obesity-specific health-related quality of life.

Conclusion: Given that caregivers are critical components of pediatric weight management interventions, those with clinically increased levels of parenting stress would likely benefit from brief problem-solving interventions and anticipatory guidance to address common obstacles when fostering healthier lifestyles for their youth.

(C) 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.