Disparities in Accuracy of Maternal Perceptions of Obesity among Hispanic Children


Maternal perceptions of their children's weight status may limit their readiness to foster healthy habits to prevent childhood obesity. We compared maternal perceptions as measured by verbal and visual scales of their children's weight status (CWS) with measured BMI/weight-for-age percentile among 75 Hispanic mothers with at least one child aged ≤10 years. Mothers were significantly more likely to underestimate their CWS compared to measured BMI, particularly during verbal appraisals. Although maternal perceptions (verbal and visual scales) were significantly associated with measured CWS, the strength of the association was moderate (Verbal r=0.45 (95%CI:0.30, 0.57); Visual r=0.34 (95%CI:0.18, 0.48)). In no case, did parents in this study identify their children as "obese." These results underscore the need for more precise understandings about parental perceptions in order to develop better modes of communication regarding health risks of obesity and ways to modify and control unhealthy behaviors related to body weight.