Health Care Provider, Parental, and Self Identification of Child Overweight and Weight Loss Attempts Among Children Aged 8-15

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Research Objective: Health care provider (HCP) identification of child adiposity may facilitate weight control efforts, potentially by changing parental perception of child weight status. Using a nationally representative sample, we examined whether HCP identification of child overweight corresponds with parental perception of child adiposity and child engagement in weight control efforts.

Study Design: Cross-sectional secondary analyses were conducted using data from the 2005-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Age and sex-specific body mass index (BMI) percentiles were calculated using the 2000 CDC growth charts. Adult respondents were asked whether they considered the child overweight or “about the right weight” and whether a HCP had ever told them that their child was overweight. Children (8-15 years) were asked whether they were trying to lose weight and whether they had tried in the previous year. Other covariates included age, sex, race/ethnicity, caregiver education, and poverty-to-income ratio (PIR). Chi-square tests of independence and multivariable logistic regressions were used to examine relationships of interest. State 12SE survey commands and appropriate sampling weights were used to account for the complex sampling design of NHANES.

Population Studied: The study population consisted of 3,233 children, ages 8-15 years. Approximately 59% of the sample was non-Hispanic White, 15% was non- Hispanic Black, 13% was Mexican-American, and 13% identified as other. About 22% of children were overweight (84.99 < BMI % < 95) and 14% were obese (94.99 < BMI %).

Principal Findings:Among overweight children, 70% of caregivers believed their child was the right weight and 84% had never been told by a HCP that their child was overweight. Caregivers told by a HCP that their child was overweight more often identified their child as overweight than caregivers who had not been alerted (54% vs. 26%, p

Conclusions: HCP identification of pediatric overweight and obesity is associated with more accurate parental perception of child weight status and overweight/obese children’s likelihood of attempting weight loss.

Implications for Policy, Delivery, Or Practice: Increasing the proportion of overweight and obese children identified by HCPs could improve parental awareness of children’s weight status and foster children’s engagement in weight control behaviors.


Academy Health Annual Research Meeting (ARM)


Orlando, FL

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