How do parents of 4- to 5-year-old children perceive the weight of their children?

Authors

  • HGM Oude Luttikhuis,

    1. Department of Pediatrics, Beatrix Children’s Hospital, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
    2. Department of Epidemiology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
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  • RP Stolk,

    1. Department of Epidemiology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
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  • PJJ Sauer

    1. Department of Pediatrics, Beatrix Children’s Hospital, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
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PJJ Sauer, M.D., Beatrix Children’s Hospital, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, PO Box 30.001 (CA80), 9700 RB Groningen, the Netherlands. Tel: +31-50-3614830 | Fax: +31-50-3611704 |
Email: p.j.j.sauer@bkk.umcg.nl

Abstract

Introduction:  A heavier weight in adults is becoming the norm rather than an abnormal weight. Whether the same trend is happening in children is unknown.

Objective:  To assess the perception of the weight of 4- to 5-year-old children and the recognition of overweight by both parents.

Design:  Population-based survey.

Participants:  A questionnaire was sent to parents of 1155 4- to 5-year-old children.

Results:  In total, 439 questionnaires (35%) were returned. Of all, 90% of the children had a normal weight, 9.3% were overweight and 4.1% were obese. For all weight classes, the parents depicted the child as lighter on both the verbal and visual scale. Of all, 75% of mothers of overweight children stated that the child had a normal weight. In obese children, 50% of the mothers believed that the child had a normal weight.

Conclusion:  Children with a weight in the normal range were considered by their parents as a little too light or too light. Overweight was considered as normal weight, and obesity as normal or a little too heavy. The perception of a normal weight in children at 4–5 years is distorted.

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