How can we help parents recognise unhealthy body weight in their children

Project: Standard

Project Details


Childhood obesity is an important public health problem worldwide and identifying effective preventive strategies remains a priority. Parents are central to the development of their child's health-related behaviours and play a key role in both the development and implementation of prevention strategies. However, many studies show that parents do not recognise when their child is overweight. For example, our previous NPRI funded work showed that over 2/3rds of parents of overweight children described their child as being of 'normal weight' at 7 years. Addressing the difference between parents' perceptions and actual child weight status is important. If parents do not perceive their child as overweight they are unlikely to make appropriate changes to their child's lifestyle. However there is evidence that parents are more likely to make such changes if they perceive their child's weight as being a health problem.

This study will develop and test tools to improve parents' ability to correctly assess their child's weight status as well to increase their knowledge of the health consequences of childhood overweight. 3D body scanning technology will be used to obtain body scans from 800 children and to produce age and gender specific body image scales. We will work with parents to further develop the body image scales as a method to improve parents' ability to recognise overweight in children and to develop supporting information to increase parental knowledge of the consequences of childhood overweight. A feasibility study of the tool will include consultation with parents' and the findings will be used to improve all aspects. Finally, in stage 4, a cluster randomised control trial will be conducted to test whether the tool is effective and which method of delivery is most effective in improving parental recognition of childhood overweight and understanding of its consequences.

Key findings

Pilot stages of this project are nearly complete and the group is preparing to start the final stage, which is a trial of the tools developed to help parents judge body weight in their children.
AcronymHow can we help parents recognise
Effective start/end date1/04/1231/01/15


  • Medical Research Council: £3,004.00

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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