The development of effective and sustainable interventions to treat childhood obesity remains both a priority and a challenge. Previous studies support that dogs provide social support in overweight adults in obesity interventions, but the child-dog relationship is not as well understood. The goal of the study was to examine the child-dog relationship among children to inform novel childhood obesity interventions including dogs. A cross-sectional study was conducted in the Living Laboratory® at the Museum of Science, Boston in 2015. Children aged 8–13, with a dog in the household, answered surveys on pet attachment (Pet Relationship Scale), perceived social support from parents and close friends (Child and Adolescent Social Support Scale), and had a height and weight measurement taken for calculation of body mass index percentile. Overweight and obese children (≥ 85th body mass index percentile) had greater mean attachment score to their dog and less mean perceived social support from their parents and friends combined compared to healthy weight children (73.1 ± 5.6 vs. 68.5 ± 7.2, p = 0.037; 110.5 ± 13.5 vs. 122.9 ± 14.8, p = 0.015, respectively; n = 43). In conclusions, children who are overweight/obese report greater mean dog attachment and lower mean perceived social support, supporting the concept that pet dogs are considered part of overweight/obese children's social support networks. Future studies are warranted to evaluate the impact of including pet dogs as additional health support in child obesity interventions.
|Publication Title||Preventive Medicine Reports|
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