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Research Article Open Access
Background: Although parents are primary to development of obese genic behaviors, many parents do not perceive their child’s obesity as problematic and are not ready to make changes to address their child’s weight. The purpose of the study is to examine relationships between parental perception of child weight, parental readiness to change behaviors, and barriers to behavior change. Methods: A sample of low-socioeconomic and minority parents of 6-12 year old children who are overweight or obese completed questionnaires on perception of their child’s weight, stage of readiness to change behaviors for their child’s weight (SOC), and barriers to changing child weight control behaviors. Parents were blinded to the purpose of the study. Child weight status was categorized ‘overweight’ (BMI ≤85th-95th percentile) or ‘obese’ (BMI ≥95th percentile). Results: Of the 48 parent-child dyads, 77.1% of parents underestimated their child’s weight status and 54.2% perceived their child as normal weight. Older (p=0.045) and married parents (p=0.025) were more likely to perceive their child as overweight. Accurate parental perception was significantly associated with advanced stage of change (SOC; r=0.358, p=0.012). Conclusions: Parents of overweight or obese children underestimated their child’s weight status. Parental perception of child weight was associated with the parent’s SOC for their child’s weight.
Childhood, Obesity, Parents, Perception, Readiness to change, Weightloss