Objective: To determine relationships between body mass index (BMI) status and indicators of health and morbidity in a nationally-representative population sample of preschool children.
Design setting and participants: Data from the 4-5 year-old cohort in the first wave (2004) of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children.
Main outcome measures: Measured child BMI, categorised as non-overweight, overweight and obese using International Obesity TaskForce cutpoints. Parent-reported child global health, health-related quality of life, mental health problems, asthma, sleep problems, injuries, and special health care needs, and level of parental concern about the child's weight. Regression methods were used to assess associations with child's BMI status, adjusted for sociodemographic factors.
Results: BMI was available for 4,934 (99%) children; 756 (15.3%) were overweight and 258 (5.2%) obese. Compared to non-overweight children, parents of overweight and obese children reported a higher prevalence of special health care needs (adj OR 1.72, 95% CI 1.20 to 2.46), but other health outcomes were similar. Parent concern about the childs' weight was low among the overweight (14.4%) and non-overweight (17.8%) children, but rose to 52.7% in the obese. However, parent concern was unrelated to any of the specific health problems studied.
Conclusions: Despite a high prevalence of overweight/obesity, parents of overweight and obese children reported relatively few additional health burdens over and above those of the non-overweight preschoolers. These findings may shed light on the mismatch between strong public concern and parents' expressed lack of concern about overweight/obesity in their own children around the time of school entry.
- Children, preschool
- Cross-sectional studies
- Health status