Incongruent Trends in Parents Being Notified of Their Child’s Overweight/Obesity Status: Parent Reports, NHANES 1999–2014

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Introduction: Obesity affects nearly 13 million children and adolescents in the United States, with the burden falling on minority populations. Only one-third of parents whose children experience overweight/obesity report being notified about their child’s overweight/obesity status by a health care provider (HCP). It is not known how notification differs by race and ethnicity. We examined trends, by race, in HCPs notifying parents of their child’s overweight/obesity.

Methods: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data from 1999-2014 for 25,570 children aged 2-18 years were analyzed. Parents answered for children aged 2-15 years answering “Has a doctor or health professional ever told you that your child was overweight?” Weighted percentages for every 2-year survey cycle were calculated then ecologically correlated with the survey year using simple linear regression. The biennial change of percentage was measured by coefficient (β). Logistic regression was conducted to determine effects of sociodemographic covariates.

Results: Trends for being notified by a HCP increased significantly for Whites β = 1.83 p = .03 and Hispanics β =1.54, p < .001, but not for blacks, β = 0.58, p = .25. The odds of being notified were 1.07 (1.03-1.12) and 1.08 (1.02-1.16) respectively for Whites and Hispanics, and non-significant for Blacks 1.02 (0.98-1.07).

Discussion: Inconsistencies in notification of overweight/obesity may result from participant self-reporting bias, or physician implicit bias arising from perceptions of cultural norms or national statistics. Consequently, the likelihood of discussing weight status and obesity prevention interventions may be lower, or delayed until co-morbidities develop, thus increasing health service provider challenges.


American Public Health Association Annual Meeting (APHA)


Atlanta, GA