Perception versus reality: an exploration of children's measured body mass in relation to caregivers' estimates

J Health Psychol. 2007 Nov;12(6):871-82. doi: 10.1177/1359105307082449.


This study investigated the relationship between parents' reports, as compared with our obtained measurements, of their children's body status. Separate body mass index (BMI) scores were calculated based on: (1) parents' report of their children's height and weight, and (2) children's measured height and weight. Results indicate that parents' perceptions of their children's body status reliably varied from the scores obtained from our measurements, such that parents whose children classified as overweight consistently underreported their children's BMI, while parents whose children fell into the underweight category did the opposite. Implications for the potential psychological mechanisms at play in addition to how these findings might relate to the larger childhood obesity crisis in the United States and internationally are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Awareness*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Parents*