OBJECTIVE: This study explored parents' perceptions about their child's appearance and health and evaluated a tool to determine parents' visual perception of their child's weight. METHODS: Parents of children aged 2 to 17 years were surveyed concerning their child's appearance and health and opinions about childhood overweight. They also selected the sketch (from 7 choices) that most closely matched the body image of their child using 1 of 8 gender-and age-range-specific panels of sketches. Children's height and weight were measured. Respondents were grouped by child body mass index (BMI) percentile ( or =95th [overweight]). Those with BMI > or =5th percentile were analyzed. Logistic regression was used to examine factors influencing parental perceptions and levels of worry about their overweight or AROW child. RESULTS: Of the 223 children, 60% were or =6 years, parents were more likely to identify their child as "overweight" or "a little overweight" using words, select a middle or heavier sketch, and to be worried. Parents of older children were more likely to be worried if they perceived their child as less active/slower than other children or recalled a doctor's concern. CONCLUSIONS: Few parents of overweight and AROW children recognized their child as overweight or were worried. Recognition of physical activity limitations and physicians' concerns may heighten the parent's level of concern. Sketches may be a useful tool to identify overweight children when measurements are not available.
Aged, Body Mass Index, Child, factors, Health, Male, Methods, older, Overweight, Parents, Perception, perceptions, Physicians, PPRG, regression, Risk, Visual Perception