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Prev Med. 2013 Jul;57(1):55-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2013.04.002. Epub 2013 Apr 13.

Perceptions of health risk among parents of overweight children: a cross-sectional study within a cohort.

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Department of Non-communicable Disease Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK.



To identify the socio-demographic and behavioural characteristics associated with perceptions of weight-related health risk among the parents of overweight children.


Baseline data from a cohort of parents of children aged 4-11 years in five areas in England in 2010-2011 were analysed; the sample was restricted to parents of overweight children (body mass index ≥ 91(st) centile of UK 1990 reference; n=579). Associations between respondent characteristics and parental perception of health risk associated with their child's weight were examined using logistic regression analyses.


Most parents (79%) did not perceive their child's weight to be a health risk. Perception of a health risk was associated with recognition of the child's overweight status (OR 10.59, 95% CI 5.51 to 20.34), having an obese child (OR 4.21, 95% CI 2.28 to 7.77), and having an older child (OR 2.67, 95% CI 1.32 to 5.41). However, 41% of parents who considered their child to be overweight did not perceive a health risk.


Parents that recognise their child's overweight status, and the parents of obese and older children, are more likely to perceive a risk. However, many parents that acknowledge their child is overweight do not perceive a related health risk.

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