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Weighing children; parents agree, but GPs conflicted
  1. Brendan O'Shea1,2,3,
  2. Emma L Ladewig1,3,
  3. Alan Kelly1,
  4. Udo Reulbach1,
  5. Tom O'Dowd1
  1. 1Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  2. 2Trinity College Dublin Health Services Executive General Practice Training Scheme, Trinity Teaching Centre, Tallaght Hospital, Dublin 24, Ireland
  3. 3National Children's Research Centre, Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Brendan O'Shea, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Trinity College Dublin, Tallaght Hospital, Dublin 24, Ireland; drbrendanoshea{at}


Background General practitioners (GPs) do not routinely check children's weight, partly due to concern regarding parental/child response. The aim of this study is to compare GP concerns regarding weighing with parental/child responses.

Objective Compare GP insights on weighing children with the experience of parents whose children had been weighed.

Methods Part 1: postal survey of 20% sample of Irish GPs. Part 2: general practice-based study checking weight of 5–12 year olds attending 10 practices, with postconsultation parental survey.

Setting Irish General Practice.

Participants 393 GPs and 457 parents.

Outcome measures GP (n=393) and parental (n=434) responses.

Results Of 490 GPs surveyed, 393 responded (response rate 80.2%). Few GPs (3.56%) always checked children's weight. Concern regarding parental response was often (52.2%) or always (19.0%) a concern that affected the likelihood of discussing a child's weight.

Among children (n=457), 14.9% were overweight and 10.9% obese. Almost all (98.6%) parents indicated checking weight was helpful. 4.4% of parents and just over 1 in 4 obese children responded negatively to weighing. Overweight children were more likely to respond negatively (χ2=62.6, df=4, p<0.001). Children 5–6 years were most likely to respond positively.

Conclusions GPs are conflicted regarding the acceptability of weighing the child but almost all parents believed it helpful. A minority of obese children responded negatively.

  • Obesity
  • General Paediatrics
  • Paediatric Practice
  • Primary Care

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