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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2012 Apr;9(4):1427-37. doi: 10.3390/ijerph9041427. Epub 2012 Apr 16.

Childhood obesity among Puerto Rican children: discrepancies between child's and parent's perception of weight status.

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Department of Human Development, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Puerto Rico, Medical Science Campus, San Juan, PR 00936-5067, Puerto Rico.


Public concern about childhood obesity and associated health problems calls for the identification of modifiable factors that could halt this epidemic. Parental perceptions of their children's weight status could be associated to how parents influence children's eating patterns. We aimed to identify the perceptions Puerto Rican parents have of their children's weight and children's own perceptions of weight status as compared to real weight. A cross sectional survey was performed in a representative sample of 1st-6th grade students. Only half of the children correctly identified their weight, and only 62.4% of the parents correctly classified their children's weight. Most obese/overweight children did not perceive themselves as such. Almost half of obese/overweight children were identified by the parents as normal weight while over half of the underweight children were perceived by their parents at normal weight. More girls than boys perceived themselves as obese/overweight and more parents of girls than of boys perceived them as such. Higher-educated parents were better at recognizing overweight/obesity among their children compared to less-educated parents. This study suggests an influence of parents' SES characteristics on their perceptions of children's weight status as well as on children's own perceptions of their weight status.


Puerto Rican childhood obesity; children perception; parental perception

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