Parental misclassification of child overweight/obese status: The role of parental education and parental weight status

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Abstract

Childhood overweight and obesity is a major public health challenge for policymakers in many countries. As the most common supervisors of children's activities, parents have a potentially important role to play in obesity prevention. However, a precondition for parents to improve their children's diets, encourage them to be more physically active, or take them to see a doctor about their weight is for the parent to first recognize that their child is overweight or obese. This paper examines the extent of parental misclassification of child weight status, and its correlates, focusing on the role of parental education and the parent's own obesity status. We find evidence that, among non-obese parents, those who are better-educated report their child's weight status more accurately, but among obese parents, the better-educated are 45.18% more likely than parents with lower secondary education to give a false negative report of their child's overweight/obesity; this may reflect social desirability bias.

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