Parental perceptions of their obese child’s weight status and health-related quality of life

  • L. Cutler
  • K. Parkinson
  • A. Jones
  • B. Arnott
  • A. Adamson


Background Child weight status is inversely related to their health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Parents typically do not recognise obesity in their children and may, therefore, not realise the impact obesity could have on their child. Associations between parental reports of their child’s weight status and HRQOL in obese children were examined. Methods Parents of 4-5 and 10-11 year olds rated their child’s weight status and reported their HRQOL using a parent-proxy, obesity-specific questionnaire (Sizing Them Up). Children’s weight status was based on UK 1990 growth reference criteria from measured height and weight. Differences in HRQOL reports between parents who rated their child as healthy weight and those who rated their child as overweight or very overweight (i.e. recognised a weight problem) were examined. Findings 93 children were obese. 29.0%, 64.5% and 6.5% of parents rated their child as healthy weight, overweight and very overweight (i.e. obese), respectively. Parents who rated their child as healthy weight reported their child’s HRQOL significantly higher on the total score (Mann-Whitney U=365.5, p<0.001), and 3 of its sub-domains compared to parents who rated their child as overweight/very overweight. Conclusions Results suggest that parents who do not recognise their child is overweight/obese may not appreciate the impact obesity is having on their child’s HRQOL. This research was funded by the National Prevention Research Initiative. Laura Cutler is funded by an NIHR research fellowship. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.
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