How Accurately Do Both Parents and Health Professionals Assess Overweight in Children?

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An accurate perception of weight status is important to prevent childhood obesity.


We investigated whether parents and health professionals accurately identify children's weight status.


On the 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey: National Youth Fitness Survey, parents and health professionals rated the same child's weight status as overweight or healthy. The sensitivity and specificity of their answers were computed by comparing parents' and health professionals' ratings to the age growth chart from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Participants were 1571 children. Parents' sensitivity and specificity were 0.386 and 0.992, respectively. Health professionals' sensitivity and specificity were 0.343 and 0.981, respectively.


Parents and health professionals demonstrate low sensitivity in identifying children's weight status. Health professionals should use the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention categories to more accurately identify children who are overweight.

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