Perceptions of Child Weight Status by Parents of Children on Medicaid

  • Brannon J
  • Ahlers-Schmidt C
  • Harrison M
Citations of this article
Mendeley users who have this article in their library.


Background: Parental perception of child's size has been evaluated in previous studies, but the degree of inaccuracy has been overlooked. In addition, parents of children on Medicaid may be more likely to have inaccurate perception of their child's size. The objectives of this study were to assess the rate of overweight children, document the degree of discrepancy between parents' perceptions and their children's actual weight status, and identify factors related to inaccurate parental perception in a population predominantly insured by Medicaid. Methods: Participants in the cross-sectional survey included 241 parents of children age three to 12 years, who were English or Spanish speaking, and at least 18 years of age. Surveys asked parents to identify their child's size based on a 5-point likert-type scale. Results: A Body Mass Index (BMI) at the 95 th percentile or above was found for 30.3% of children. Parents were only correct 39.8% of the time when describing their child's weight status. In fact, 39.4% underestimated their child's weight by one BMI category, 17.4% by 2 categories, and 1.7% by 3 categories. Parental accuracy decreased as child's weight status increased. No other measured characteristics significantly impacted parental accuracy. Conclusions: Children on Medicaid have high levels of overweight and nearly 20% of parents underestimated their child's size by at least 2 BMI categories. Parental perception needs improvement before interventions are likely to be effective. KJM 2009; 2(4):78-86.




Brannon, J. G., Ahlers-Schmidt, C. R., & Harrison, M. (2009). Perceptions of Child Weight Status by Parents of Children on Medicaid. Kansas Journal of Medicine, 2(4), 78–86.

Register to see more suggestions

Mendeley helps you to discover research relevant for your work.

Already have an account?

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free