•  
  •  
 

Abstract

Minority and low socioeconomic status groups have the highest rates of overweight and obesity. Children from these families face a greater risk for weight-related health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer as compared to their non-minority and more affluent peers. Factors from the larger physical, social, and cultural environments, and within families, influence weight status among children. Many of these factors are yet to be identified and relationships among known factors are complex and not well understood. The National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Agriculture have proposed a research agenda for social and behavioral scientists to “examine how social contexts influence health and elucidate the mechanisms through with those mechanisms operate”, and to “develop ways to intervene on those factors for preventing obesity.” This editorial presents a social ecological view of child obesity and proposes several steps necessary to identify how community and family domain factors affect the weight-regulating behaviors of children. An empirically-based, theoretically-driven approach will lead to efficacious interventions which can be translated and widely disseminated into community-based programs, thus increasing the probability of success of population-based obesity prevention and control interventions.