Underestimation of children's weight status: views of parents in an urban community

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2010 May;49(5):470-6. doi: 10.1177/0009922809336071. Epub 2009 May 15.


Objective: To examine the relationship between parents' underestimation of their child's weight status and concerns about their child's weight and health.

Methods: We conducted interviews with parents in an urban pediatric clinic (January through June 2006). Children's height and weight were measured at the visit using standard techniques.

Results: 193 children were included (response rate 87%, 18 months-9 years, 70% black); 31% of parents underestimated their child's weight status (46% of overweight children, 24% of normal weight). Parents of normal-weight children who underestimated were more likely to be concerned about their child's weight (39% vs 2.9%, P < .001) than those who did not underestimate. Parents of overweight children who underestimated were less likely to be concerned about their child's weight (7.7% vs 59%, P < .001) than those who recognized their children as overweight.

Conclusions: Many parents continue to underestimate their child's weight status. These perceptions may present a barrier to the prevention of childhood obesity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Attitude to Health
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight*
  • Child
  • Child Welfare*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Overweight / prevention & control
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Perception
  • Risk Assessment
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Urban Population