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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
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  • Description:
    Introduction

    The objective of our study was to describe perceptions of child weight status among US children, adolescents, and their parents and to examine the extent to which accurate personal and parental perception of weight status is associated with self-reported attempted weight loss.

    Methods

    Our study sample comprised 2,613 participants aged 8 to 15 years in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from the 2 most recent consecutive cycles (2007–2008 and 2009–2010). Categories of weight perception were developed by comparing measured to perceived weight status. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to examine the association between weight misperception and self-reported attempted weight loss.

    Results

    Among children and adolescents, 27.3% underestimated and 2.8% overestimated their weight status. Among parents, 25.2% underestimated and 1.1% overestimated their child’s weight status. Logistic regression analyses showed that the odds of self-reported attempted weight loss was 9.5 times as high (95% confidence interval [CI]: 3.8–23.6) among healthy-weight children and adolescents who overestimated their weight status as among those who perceived their weight status accurately; the odds of self-reported attempted weight loss were 3.9 (95% CI, 2.4–6.4) and 2.9 (95% CI, 1.8–4.6) times as high among overweight and obese children and adolescents, respectively, who accurately perceived their weight status than among those who underestimated their weight status. Parental misperception of weight was not significantly associated with self-reported attempted weight loss among children and adolescents who were overweight or obese.

    Conclusion

    Efforts to prevent childhood obesity should incorporate education for both children and parents regarding the proper identification and interpretation of actual weight status. 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.

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