Weighing children; parents agree, but GPs conflicted

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Abstract

Background

General practitioners (GPs) do not routinely check children's weight, partly due to concern regarding parental/child response. The aim of this study is to compare GP concerns regarding weighing with parental/child responses.

Objective

Compare GP insights on weighing children with the experience of parents whose children had been weighed.

Methods

Part 1: postal survey of 20% sample of Irish GPs. Part 2: general practice-based study checking weight of 5–12 year olds attending 10 practices, with postconsultation parental survey.

Setting

Irish General Practice.

Participants

393 GPs and 457 parents.

Outcome measures

GP (n=393) and parental (n=434) responses.

Results

Of 490 GPs surveyed, 393 responded (response rate 80.2%). Few GPs (3.56%) always checked children's weight. Concern regarding parental response was often (52.2%) or always (19.0%) a concern that affected the likelihood of discussing a child's weight.

Results

Among children (n=457), 14.9% were overweight and 10.9% obese. Almost all (98.6%) parents indicated checking weight was helpful. 4.4% of parents and just over 1 in 4 obese children responded negatively to weighing. Overweight children were more likely to respond negatively (χ2=62.6, df=4, p<0.001). Children 5–6 years were most likely to respond positively.

Conclusions

GPs are conflicted regarding the acceptability of weighing the child but almost all parents believed it helpful. A minority of obese children responded negatively.

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