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Dec 20, 2013

Perceived Children’s Weight by Parents Contrasts Actual Children’s Weight

In a study conducted in the Netherlands, opinions were collected from 800 parents of children 4yrs-5yrs of age regarding their child’s current weight. When shown a visual BMI scale of a child and asked to match their child’s weight to one an astounding 95% of parents chose a BMI lower than that of their child's.

What makes this information more weighty is that parents were also asked to report real data on their childen’s body such as height and weight, yet still perceived a lower image to match their children’s current weight. Parents with normal weight children often chose a Body Mass Index (BMI) one size smaller than actual, and parents of overweight or obese children chose on average three sizes smaller.

Conclusively, even though many parents were unaware of what an average healthy weight of children was, they were willing to receive information on healthy weight management for children no matter what their children’s current weight was. This information poses a need for health education classes for parents of younger aged children, especially since starting a healthy lifestyle at a young age could set them up for a healthy future.

A good child BMI calculator is available at:

For more information please read:

Luttikhuis et al. How do parents of 4- to 5-year-old children perceive the weight of their children? Acta Paediatrica, 2010; 99: 263-267 DOI: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2009.01576.x