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Eur J Pediatr. 2006 Dec;165(12):875-83. Epub 2006 Jul 29.

Maternal perceptions of her child's body weight in infancy and early childhood and their relation to body weight status at age 7.

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Research Institute of Child Nutrition, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Heinstueck 11, 44225, Dortmund, Germany.



Maternal perception of her child's weight status has been hypothesised to affect a child's weight development.


The aim of this analysis was to determine in how far the maternal weight perception of her child's weight at different ages is related to its future body weight status.


Longitudinal data on body weight, height and skinfolds from the Dortmund Nutritional and Anthropometric Longitudinally Designed Study were used to determine the risk of being overweight at age 7. Complete data on anthropometry, maternal weight perception and confounding variables were available for 253 children.


Maternal weight perception assessments at age 6 months, 12 months, 2 years and 4 years of age were related to body weight status as well as changes in body mass index standard deviation score (BMI-SDS) and skinfold SDS between age at assessment and age 7. With respect to the risk of being overweight at age 7, no independent effect of maternal perception was found. When changes in anthropometric measures were considered, it could be observed that children whose weight was considered too low gained more weight until age 7, and those who were considered to be too heavy lost more weight as compared to the children whose weight was considered to be just right. Among infants aged 6 months who were above the 85th percentile, maternal misperception appeared to promote an unfavourable weight development. These latter results support the hypothesis that maternal weight perception might affect a child's weight development.


As our data suggest, this effect might begin to operate already in infancy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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