Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Many overweight children and their parents underestimate the children’s weight status

A first step to obesity prevention and treatment is that one is aware of one's overweight. In a study across Europe, as part of the ENERGY study, we explored if children and their parents are aware of the children's overweight and obesity. This study was just published in e-pub in Public Health Nutrition.
The study was conducted among 6113 children aged 10–12 years and their parents. Children’s weight and height were objectively measured. Parental anthropometric and sociodemographic data were self-reported. Children and their parents were asked to comment on children’s weight status based on five-point Likert-type scales, ranging from ‘I am much too thin’ to ‘I am much too fat’ (children) and ‘My child’s weight is way too low’ to ‘My child’s weight is way too much’ (parents). These data were combined with children’s actual weight status, in order to assess underestimation of children’s weight status by children themselves and by their parents, respectively. 
43% of overweight/obese children and 28% of parents of overweight/obese children underestimated their and their children’s weight status, respectively. A higher likelihood for this underestimation was observed in Eastern and Southern compared with Central/Northern countries. Overweight or obese parents, parents of boys, and children from overweight/obese or unemployed parents were more likely to underestimate children’s weight status.