Send to

Choose Destination
Obes Res. 2003 Nov;11(11):1362-8.

Childhood obesity: do parents recognize this health risk?

Author information

Department of Pediatrics, New York Medical College, Munger Pavilion, 3rd Floor, Valhalla, NY 10595, USA.



This study examined parents' understanding of excess weight as a health risk, knowledge of healthy eating habits, and recognition of obesity in their children.


An anonymous questionnaire was distributed during well-care visits involving children 4 to 8 years of age at a pediatric faculty practice. Parents indicated their level of concern about excess weight and other familiar health risks using a four-point Likert scale, answered multiple-choice questions concerning healthy eating patterns, and communicated their perceptions about their child's weight using a visual analog scale. A parent's perception was considered "accurate" if it deviated from the child's growth chart percentile by <30 points.


Of the 83 parents surveyed, 23% (19/83) had overweight children (> or = 95th percentile of age- and gender-specific BMI growth charts). These parents did not differ from other parents in their level of concern about excess weight as a health risk or in their knowledge of healthy eating patterns, but the two groups of parents did differ in the accuracy of their perceptions about their children's weight. Only 10.5% of parents of overweight children (2/19) perceived their child's weight accurately compared with 59.4% of other parents (38/64; p < 0.001). Parents of overweight children invariably underestimated their children's weight. The median difference between their perception and the growth chart percentile was -45 points.


Given that most parents of overweight children fail to recognize that their child has a weight problem, pediatricians should develop strategies to help these parents correct their misperceptions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center