• Open Access

Mothers' awareness of their weight status and concern about their children being overweight: findings from first-time mothers in south-west Sydney


Correspondence to:
Dr Li Ming Wen, Health Promotion Service, Sydney South West Area Health Service, Level 9, King George V Building, Missenden Road, Camperdown, NSW 2050 Australia. Fax: (02) 9515 9056; e-mail: lmwen@email.cs.nsw.gov.au


Objective: To assess mothers' awareness of their weight status and to investigate whether this awareness influences mothers' concerns about their child being overweight or obese.

Design and setting: An analysis of cross-sectional baseline survey data from the Healthy Beginnings Trial conducted in south-west Sydney, NSW.

Participants: A total of 667 first-time mothers at 24-36 weeks of pregnancy or within one month after giving birth, who participated in the Healthy Beginnings Trial.

Results: Forty per cent of first-time mothers were overweight (24%) or obese (16%). Of these women 49% considered their weight acceptable and 21% had little or no concern about their child being overweight and obese. Concern about her child's weight was not dependent on the mother's age, marital status, education, employment, ethnicity or weight status. The only factor associated with concern about children being overweight was the mother's awareness of her own weight status. Mothers who were unaware of being overweight were twice as likely to be unconcerned about their children being overweight as those who were aware of their weight status (RR 1.98, 95% CI 1.19 to 3.29, p=0.009).

Conclusions: There was a low level of awareness of mothers' own weight status, in particular among mothers who were young and less educated. This could lead to a lack of concern about their child being overweight.

Implications: Early interventions to prevent childhood overweight and obesity need to improve mothers' awareness of their own weight status and appropriate concerns about children being overweight or obese.