3Faculty of Health Sciences, Institute of Medical, Pharmaceutical, and Health Sciences, Kanazawa University, Kanazawa, Japan
1Division of Health Sciences, Graduate School of Kanazawa University, Kanazawa, Japan
Background The frequency of overweight among children in developing countries is increasing. Parents play a significant role in the successful prevention and treatment of overweight in their children. However, parents will be unable to take effective action against overweight if they cannot correctly perceive their children’s weight status. Objectives The aim of the study was to investigate parents’ perceptions of their children’s weight status and the factors associated with parental misperceptions about their children’s weight status. Methods In this cross-sectional study, a sample of 886 children aged 6 - 13 years and their fathers or mothers were selected using convenience sampling. Data were collected using a questionnaire about the subjects’ sociodemographic characteristics and the parents’ perceptions of their children’s weight status. The children’s anthropometric parameters were measured using standardized equipments. The chi-square test and logistic regression were used to analyze the data. Results Approximately 50% of the parents misperceived their children’s weight status, -4.29% overestimated, and 45.26% underestimated it. The frequency of weight status underestimation was high among the parents of overweight and normal weight children (47.65% and 55.08%, respectively). Logistic regression analysis revealed that the underestimation of weight status by parents was associated with the child’s body mass index (BMI) (odds ratio [OR]: 0.93 and 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.89 - 0.97), the younger children (OR: 1.5, 95% CI: 1.13 - 1.99), a higher parental educational level (OR: 1.54, 95%CI: 1.02 - 2.33), and irregular BMI screening (OR: 1.34, 95%CI: 1.01 - 1.77). Conclusions Parents often have misperceptions about their children’s weight status. Nurses should help parents to correctly perceive their children’s weight status. This study also emphasizes on the need for periodic follow-up of BMI among children.