The accuracy of parent-reported height and weight for 6-12 year old U.S. children

BMC Pediatr. 2018 Feb 12;18(1):52. doi: 10.1186/s12887-018-1042-x.


Background: Previous studies have examined correlations between BMI calculated using parent-reported and directly-measured child height and weight. The objective of this study was to validate correction factors for parent-reported child measurements.

Methods: Concordance between parent-reported and investigator measured child height, weight, and BMI (kg/m2) among participants in the Neighborhood Impact on Kids Study (n = 616) was examined using the Lin coefficient, where a value of ±1.0 indicates perfect concordance and a value of zero denotes non-concordance. A correction model for parent-reported height, weight, and BMI based on commonly collected demographic information was developed using 75% of the sample. This model was used to estimate corrected measures for the remaining 25% of the sample and measured concordance between correct parent-reported and investigator-measured values. Accuracy of corrected values in classifying children as overweight/obese was assessed by sensitivity and specificity.

Results: Concordance between parent-reported and measured height, weight and BMI was low (0.007, - 0.039, and - 0.005 respectively). Concordance in the corrected test samples improved to 0.752 for height, 0.616 for weight, and 0.227 for BMI. Sensitivity of corrected parent-reported measures for predicting overweight and obesity among children in the test sample decreased from 42.8 to 25.6% while specificity improved from 79.5 to 88.6%.

Conclusions: Correction factors improved concordance for height and weight but did not improve the sensitivity of parent-reported measures for measuring child overweight and obesity. Future research should be conducted using larger and more nationally-representative samples that allow researchers to fully explore demographic variance in correction coefficients.

Keywords: Body mass index; Body weights and measures; Misperception; Obesity; Overweight; Parents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Height*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Overweight / diagnosis
  • Parents* / psychology
  • Perception
  • Self Report*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires