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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Weight perceptions of parents with children at risk for diabetes

  • Author(s): Vivian, Eva M
  • Becker, Tara L
  • Carrel, Aaron L
  • et al.

Abstract Background The growing epidemic of obesity and diabetes among African American, Latino American, and Native American children in the United States has led to increasing focus on strategies for prevention. However, little is known about the perceptions toward weight, nutrition, and physical activity among these youth. This pilot study explored the perceptions of body weight among overweight and obese children and their parents. Results Thirty eight children, ages 8-16 years who were enrolled in a diabetes prevention study were surveyed to assess their perception of their weight. Nearly all (84%) of the children were obese. When asked whether they considered themselves to be overweight, African-American children were less likely to report that they were overweight than other children (33% vs. 80% of other children, p = 0.01). The parents of these children (n = 29) were also surveyed to assess their perception of their child's weight. The parents of two-thirds (65%) of the children reported that the child was overweight, while the rest reported their child was underweight or the right weight. African-American parents were less likely to report that their child's weight was unhealthy compared to other parents (46% vs. 77%, p = 0.069). Conclusions This study's findings indicate that future intervention efforts should assess children's and parents' awareness of obesity and diabetes risk and these factors should be considered when developing prevention interventions for families with youth at risk for diabetes in underserved communities.

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