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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2016 May;24(5):1124-31. doi: 10.1002/oby.21439. Epub 2016 Feb 24.

The apple of their eye: Attitudinal and behavioral correlates of parents' perceptions of child obesity.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

This study addressed gaps in the existing literature about correlates of parental perception of child weight using a community sample. This study evaluated how weight-status and its perception related to parents' personal and parenting attitudes/behaviors.

DESIGN AND METHODS:

Participants were parents (N = 1,007; 65.3% mothers, 34.4% fathers) of children 5 to 15 years old. Parents completed online measures of personal eating attitudes/behaviors, attitudes/behaviors about their children's eating and weight, and parental practices related to weight-related attitudes.

RESULTS:

Parents frequently underestimated children's overweight/obesity, even more frequently than their own overweight/obesity (P < 0.001). Parents' personal eating attitudes/behaviors were related to their own weight-status (P < 0.001) and perceived child weight-status (P < 0.001) but not actual child weight-status. Parents' child-focused eating attitudes/behaviors were related to actual (P < 0.001) and perceived child weight-status (P < 0.001), but not parent weight-status.

CONCLUSIONS:

In general, parents' personal attitudes/behaviors did not extend into their perceptions of their children's weight or their response to it. Results suggest a dual need to improve parent accuracy perceiving children's overweight/obesity and to guide parent responses to perceived overweight/obesity. Given the high prevalence of childhood obesity, and the serious consequences during childhood and into adulthood, further research is needed to enhance understanding of parents' specific needs to engage in prevention and treatment programs.

PMID:
26916369
PMCID:
PMC4846571
DOI:
10.1002/oby.21439
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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