Parent-reported health status of overweight and obese Australian primary school children: a cross-sectional population survey.Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2002 May; 26(5):717-24.IJ
Childhood overweight/obesity is associated with poor physical and psychosocial health in clinical samples. However, there is little information on the health status of overweight and obese children in the community, who now represent a large proportion of the child population. We examined parent-reported child health and well-being and parent concern about child weight by body mass index (BMI) category in a population sample of primary school children.
A stratified two-stage random cluster sample of 24 primary schools representative of the state of Victoria, Australia.
BMI (weight/height(2)) transformed to normalised Z-scores using the 1990 UK Growth Reference; the Child Health Questionnaire (CHQ), a 13-scale 50-item parent-completed measure of health and well-being; parent self-reported height and weight; parent concern about child's weight.
Data were available for 2863 children aged 5-13 y (50.5% male), of whom 17% were overweight and 5.7% obese. Using logistic regression analyses with 'normal weight' as the referent category, obese boys were at greater risk of poor health (ie <15th centile) on seven of the 12 CHQ scales: Physical Functioning (odds ratio (OR) 2.8), Bodily Pain (OR 1.8), General Health (OR 3.5), Mental Health (OR 2.8), Self Esteem (OR 1.8), Parent Impact-Emotional (OR 1.7) and Parent Impact-Time (OR 1.9). Obese girls were at greater risk of poor health on only two scales: General Health (OR 2.1) and Self Esteem (OR 1.8). Forty-two percent of parents with obese children and 81% with overweight children did not report concern about their child's weight. Parents were more likely to report concern if the child was obese (OR 21.3), overweight (OR 3.5) or underweight (OR 5.4) than normal weight (P<0.05). Concern was not related to child gender, parental BMI or parental education after controlling for child BMI. Perceived health and well-being of overweight/obese children varied little by weight category of the reporting parent (overweight vs non-overweight).
Parents were more likely to report poorer health and well-being for overweight and obese children (particularly obese boys). Parental concern about their child's weight was strongly associated with their child's actual BMI. Despite this, most parents of overweight and obese children did not report poor health or well-being, and a high proportion did not report concern. This has implications for the early identification of such children and the success of prevention and intervention efforts. DOI:10.1038/sj/ijo/0801974