Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Kids With Obese Friends And Family More Likely To Misperceive Weight

Date:
September 19, 2008
Source:
University of Montreal
Summary:
Kids and teens surrounded by overweight peers or parents are more likely to be oblivious to their own extra pounds than kids from thin entourages, according to a new Canadian study.

Kids and teens surrounded by overweight peers or parents are more likely to be oblivious to their own extra pounds than kids from thin entourages, according to a new study by researchers from the Université de Montréal, McGill University, Concordia University and the Ste. Justine Hospital Research Centre.

Related Articles


"When children's parents and schoolmates are overweight or obese, their own overweight status may seem normal by comparison. The higher the BMI of their friends and family, the more kids are likely to underestimate their weight – a trend consistent for both sexes, regardless of the socioeconomic levels of their school or family," said lead author Katerina Maximova, a PhD student in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health at McGill University.

"Peers and parents have an enormous impact on kids' weight perception and when they live in environments in which people they see on a daily basis, such as parents and schoolmates, are overweight or obese, they may develop inaccurate perceptions of what constitutes appropriate weight status. So it is important that we help them correct their misperceptions and help them recognize that they may be at risk."

Published in a summer edition of the International Journal of Obesity, the original study was part of the Quebec Health and Social Survey that investigated children from three different age groups – 9, 13 and 16 years old – from 178 schools across Quebec.

Researchers analyzed the body mass index (BMI) of 3,665 children and adolescents and found about 14 percent of students were overweight (BMI of 25 and over), 9 percent were obese (BMI of 30 and over), but only 1.6 percent of kids perceived themselves as having excess weight.

To analyze weight misperceptions, investigators used the Stunkard Figure Rating Scale, which features images of seven sex-specific silhouettes that are underweight to obese.

Participants selected figures they perceived as corresponding to their appearance and researchers found that younger participants were most vulnerable to under-evaluating their weight.

"If you are surrounded by overweight people, you may be more vulnerable to distorted perceptions about your own weight," says Tracie Barnett, from the Université de Montréal Department of Social and Preventive Medicine and Ste-Justine Hospital Research Centre.

"I think this speaks to the importance of children's every day settings like school, home and neighborhood, and how these environments can influence our health in many ways. Obesity rates have nearly tripled in Canada over the past two decades and helping children to maintain or achieve healthy weight remains a substantial challenge. Since children are influenced by their surroundings, health promotion programs targeting healthy weight should take this into account."

Compared to youth with healthy BMI's, overweight or obese kids were more likely to significantly underestimate their weight, which is the crux of the public health issue.

"Accurately perceiving oneself as overweight or obese is an important cue to take action," says Jennifer J. McGrath, a psychology professor and director of the Pediatric Public Health Psychology Lab at Concordia University.

"That's why obesity prevention programs should be created to help youth correct their weight misperceptions. If youth recognize themselves as being overweight or obese, they are more likely to adopt healthy lifestyles and it is important that healthy lifestyle behaviors are adopted early in life when kids are more malleable and habits are being established."

"Do you see what I see? Weight status misperception and exposure to obesity among children and adolescents," from the International Journal of Obesity, was authored by Katerina Maximova and Gilles Paradis of McGill University, Jennifer J. McGrath of Concordia University, Tracie Barnett, Jennifer O'Loughlin and Marie Lambert of the Université de Montréal and Ste. Justine Hospital Research Centre.

This study was funded by the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services and by Health Canada.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Montreal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Maximova et al. Do you see what I see? Weight status misperception and exposure to obesity among children and adolescents. International Journal of Obesity, 2008; 32 (6): 1008 DOI: 10.1038/ijo.2008.15

Cite This Page:

University of Montreal. "Kids With Obese Friends And Family More Likely To Misperceive Weight." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080917145405.htm>.
University of Montreal. (2008, September 19). Kids With Obese Friends And Family More Likely To Misperceive Weight. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080917145405.htm
University of Montreal. "Kids With Obese Friends And Family More Likely To Misperceive Weight." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080917145405.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

AP (Oct. 28, 2014) — Moms and Dads get a more hands-on approach to parenting with tech-centric products for raising their little ones. (Oct. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Newsy (Oct. 27, 2014) — Researchers have come up with another reason why dark chocolate is good for your health. A substance in the treat can reportedly help with memory. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Five-Year-Olds Learn Coding as Britain Eyes Digital Future

Five-Year-Olds Learn Coding as Britain Eyes Digital Future

AFP (Oct. 27, 2014) — Coding has become compulsory for children as young as five in schools across the UK. Making it the first major world economy to overhaul its IT teaching and put programming at its core. Duration: 02:19 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) — A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins