Among children and adolescents, about 27 percent underestimated and nearly 3 percent overestimated their weight status, according to a study from researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Among parents, 25 percent underestimated and 1 percent overestimated their child's weight status. Analyses showed that the odds of self-reported attempted weight loss was 9.5 times as high among healthy-weight children and adolescents who overestimated their weight status as among those who perceived their weight status accurately. Parental misperception of weight was not significantly associated with self-reported attempted weight loss among children and adolescents who were overweight or obese.
Researchers concluded that efforts to prevent childhood obesity should incorporate education for both children and parents regarding the proper identification and interpretation of actual weight status. They note that interventions for appropriate weight loss can target children directly because one of the major driving forces to lose weight comes from the child's perception of his or her weight status.
Full title: Personal and Parental Weight Misperception and Self-Reported Attempted Weight Loss in US Children and Adolescents, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2007 - 2008 and 2009 - 2010
Corresponding Author: Han-Yang Chen, MS, University of Massachusetts Medical School