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J Pediatr (Rio J). 2006 May-Jun;82(3):232-5. doi: 10.2223/JPED.1477. Epub 2006 May 23.

Who are the children with adequate weight who feel fat?

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Faculdade de Medicina, Departamento de Medicina Social, Pós-Graduação em Epidemiologia, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brasil.



To measure the prevalence of children with adequate weight who feel fat and to examine the factors associated with this perception.


Cross-sectional study with 901 schoolchildren aged 8-11 years selected by cluster sampling. The children had their weight and height measured, and answered a questionnaire that included a self-esteem scale and questions on self-perception of weight, and perception of parents' and friends' expectations regarding the child's weight.


The prevalence of children with BMI percentile < 85 who considered themselves fat was 13%, and the variables significantly associated with this perception were: female gender (OR = 2.45; 95%CI 1.42-4.24), 11 years of age (OR = 2.35; 95%CI 1.13-4.89), lowest quartile of self-esteem (OR = 2.08; 95%CI 1.17-3.68), the perception that parents expect them to be thinner (OR = 3.00; 95%IC 1.52-5.91), and body mass index percentile (OR = 1.04; 95%CI 1.03-1.06).


The perception of being fat when having adequate weight afflicts children before preadolescence, particularly girls aged 11 years, with higher body mass index, lower self-esteem, and who think their parents expect them to be thinner. Future studies should examine in depth the causes and consequences of this attitude.

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