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Acta Paediatr. 2005 Jun;94(6):747-52.

Maternal perception of excess weight in children: a survey conducted by paediatricians in the province of Milan.

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  • 1DIMEP Universit√† degli Studi di Milano Bicocca, Monza, Italy.



To establish whether maternal perception of a child's body weight (BW) and food intake is related to the level of maternal education.


Height and BW of 569 mother/child couples were measured, and mothers received a questionnaire regarding their perception of their own weight and their child's BW and food intake.


Twenty-nine percent of mothers and 35% of children were overweight or obese. Only 10% of the mothers underestimated their own weight, while 37% overestimated it. In contrast, 28% of mothers underestimated their child's BW, while 9% overestimated it. Higher maternal instruction level was significantly associated to a lower weight class in both mothers and children, and to a correct perception of the child's weight. Fifty-seven per cent of the mothers who perceived their child to be overweight or obese were not concerned. Forty-four per cent of the mothers with overweight or obese children believed that their child was eating correctly.


A better understanding of how mothers perceive the problem of excess weight in their children is relevant to the success of preventive interventions in childhood obesity.

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