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Eur J Public Health. 2007 Aug;17(4):369-74. Epub 2006 Nov 23.

Reported versus measured body weight and height of 4-year-old children and the prevalence of overweight.

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Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences (IRAS), Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.



In adults, body weight tends to be underestimated when based on self-reported data. Whether this discrepancy between measured and reported data exists in healthy young children is unclear. We studied whether parental reported body weight and height of 4-year-old children corresponded with measured body weight and height. In addition, we studied the determinants and the consequences of differences between reported and measured data.


Data on body weight and height of 864 4-year-old Dutch children born in 1996/1997 enrolled in the Prevention and Incidence of Asthma and Mite Allergy (PIAMA) birth cohort study were collected via a questionnaire and a medical examination. Overweight was defined according to standard international age and gender specific definitions.


Mean differences between measured and reported body weight, height, and body mass index (BMI) were small. Parents of children with a low BMI tended to over report body weight while parents of children with a high BMI tended to underreport body weight. Whereas 9.5% of the children were overweight according to reported BMI, the prevalence of overweight was 13.4% based on measured BMI. Over 45% of the overweight children according to measured BMI were missed when reported BMI was used.


These findings suggest that overweight prevalence rates in children are underestimated when based on reported weight and height.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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