Article Text

other Versions

PDF
Weight status and perceived body size in children
  1. Jenny Saxton (jennys.epid{at}public-health.ucl.ac.uk)
  1. University College London, United Kingdom
    1. Claire Hill (c.hill{at}ucl.ac.uk)
    1. University College London, United Kingdom
      1. Paul Chadwick
      1. University College London, United Kingdom
        1. Jane Wardle (j.wardle{at}ucl.ac.uk)
        1. University College London, United Kingdom

          Abstract

          Objective: To investigate associations between weight-status and body-size perception in children in the UK.

          Design: Cross-sectional survey.

          Setting: School based sample in the UK.

          Participants: 399 children (205 boys, 194 girls) aged 7 to 9 years.

          Main outcome measures: Body mass index (converted to BMI SD scores using UK data), weight-status and demographic information. Perceived body-size was assessed using a visual method (Children’s Body Image Scale, matching to images representing BMIs from 3rd to 97th percentiles) and verbal descriptors from ‘too thin’ to ‘too fat’.

          Results: Modest associations between actual and perceived body-size were found with visual (r=0.43, p<0.001) and verbal (r=0.41, p<0.001) methods, but there was a consistent response bias towards under-estimation. Using visual matching, most children (45%) under-estimated their body-size, with significantly greater under-estimation (p<0.001) at higher BMIs. A gender-by-weight group interaction (p=0.001) showed that at lower weight girls were more accurate than boys, but at higher weights girls were less accurate. Using the verbal scale, the majority of children reported their body-size as ‘just right’ in all weight groups (52-73%), with no sex differences.

          Conclusions: Children can estimate their body-size using visual or verbal methods with some accuracy, but show greater under-estimation at higher weights, especially in girls. These findings suggest that under-estimation is more widespread than has been assumed, which has implications for health education among school-aged children.

          Statistics from Altmetric.com

          Request permissions

          If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

          Linked Articles

          • Atoms
            Howard Bauchner