The epidemic of childhood obesity, which occurs at higher rates for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), has been shown to have many deleterious health effects for both children and their parents. Previous research has consistently shown that child externalizing and internalizing behaviors are predictive of parenting stress in parents of children with IDD. Less is known about the nature of this relationship when an additional barrier, child weight status, is examined in the context of this relationship. The current study investigated child and parent factors related to parental distress in a sample of children with IDD who present with elevated weight status. We aimed to examine whether child overweight status predicted parental distress, above and beyond factors typically predictive of parenting stress in this population. Child factors examined in this study included weight status, behavioral problems, and social skills. We hypothesized that child overweight status would be a significant predictor of parental distress. Data was collected from children (ages 9-15 years old) with IDD and their parents enrolled in a week-long camp targeting health knowledge and behaviors. Using multiple linear regression, data was analyzed to determine whether the child functioning variables are predictive of parental distress and whether their combination accounted for a significant portion of the variance in parental distress. There was no significant relationship between child BMI and parental distress. Increased child behaviors were predictive of increased parental distress, while decreased social skills problems were predictive of increased parental distress. Results suggested that despite overweight/obesity status, children’s behavior problems and skills deficits remain as the dominant sources of parental distress.

LLU Discipline





School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Cameron L. Neece

Second Advisor

Allyson L. Davis

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Childhood obesity; Developmental disability; Parents psychology


Doctoral Project

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives