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Parents' perceptions and concerns about their children's weight

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conference contribution
posted on 2006-01-01, 00:00 authored by Peter Kremer, Colin BellColin Bell, Andrea Sanigorski, Boyd SwinburnBoyd Swinburn, D Schokker
Background: For parents to address overweight or obesity in their children, they first need to perceive their child to be overweight and to show some level of concern. We aimed to: (1) measure the level of misclassification between children’s actual and parent-perceived weight status, and (2) determine the level of parent concern about their child’s (actual) weight and whether concern varied according to the accuracy of parents’ perceptions.

Methods: Participants were 1711 primary school children aged 5–12 years from the Barwon-South West region of Victoria, Australia. Height and weight were measured and weight status determined using international standards. Parents completed a Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI) that included questions relating to their child’s weight.

Results: 448 children (26.2% of sample) were overweight or obese. Of these, weight status for almost half (48%) was underestimated by parents. This ‘bias’ did not vary according to the child’s gender, parent’s education, or household socio-economic status but did for child’s age and parent-respondent gender. More than half (57%) of the parents of overweight-obese children expressed no concern about their child’s weight. Parents who underestimated the weight status of their overweight child were significantly less concerned (P < 0.001) about their child’s weight than those who correctly perceived their child as overweight.

Conclusions: Parents were relatively poor judges of overweight or obesity in their own child and consequently there was a lack of appropriately directed concern. Education to help parents correctly classify their child’s weight status should be part of efforts to prevent unhealthy weight gain.



International Congress on Obesity (10th : 2006 : Sydney, New South Wales)


242 - 242




Sydney, N.S.W.

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[Sydney, N.S.W.]

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The abstract for this paper has been published in : Obesity Reviews, Volume 7, pp.224-98, September 2006.Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in Deakin Research Online. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact

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E3.1 Extract of paper

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2006, The International Association for the Study of Obesity

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ICO 2006 : Proceedings of the 10th International Congress on Obesity 2006

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