Is family sense of coherence a protective factor against the obesogenic environment?

The All 4 Kids & Copy; Obesity Resiliency Research Team

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Despite greater risk for poor nutrition, inactivity, and overweight, some low-income children are able to maintain a healthy weight. We explore if a strong family sense of coherence (FSOC) acts as a protective factor against childhood obesity for low-income preschool children. Families with a strong FSOC view challenges as predictable, understandable, worthy of engaging, and surmountable. Data were collected from 321 low-income mothers and their preschool children in five states between March 2011 and May 2013. FSOC was assessed using the Family Sense of Coherence Scale. A 16-item checklist was used to assess practicing healthy child behaviors (fruit and vegetable consumption and availability, physical activity, and family meals) and limiting unhealthy child behaviors (sweetened beverage and fast food consumption, energy dense snack availability, and screen time). Child body mass index (BMI) z-scores were calculated from measured height and weight. FSOC was significantly associated with practicing healthy child behaviors (β = 0.32, p < .001). We did not find a statistically significant association between FSOC and limiting unhealthy child behaviors or child BMI z-scores in fully adjusted models. Our results suggest the importance of family functioning in predicting health behaviors around food consumption and availability, physical activity, and family meals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-276
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Childhood obesity
  • Family sense of coherence
  • Healthy behaviors
  • Low-income families
  • Preschool-aged children
  • Resiliency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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