Most Overweight Kids Believe They Are Right Weight
By Rachael Rettner
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images
Most children and teens who are overweight think that they are actually the right weight, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds.
For the report, researchers asked U.S. children ages 8 to 15 whether they considered themselves to be “fat or overweight, too thin, or about the right weight.”
Overall, about 30 percent of the children had misperceptions about their weight: For instance, they were normal weight, but thought they were overweight or too thin; or they were overweight or obese but thought they were underweight or about the right weight.
But among the overweight children, most had misperceptions about their weight. The researchers found that 81 percent of overweight boys and 71 percent of overweight girls thought they were about the right weight. In addition, about half of obese boys and a third of obese girls thought they were the right weight.
On the other hand, most normal-weight children (87 percent) considered themselves to be the right weight, while about half of underweight children considered themselves to be the right weight (the other half considered themselves to be too thin).
A higher percentage of children from low-income families had misperceptions about their weight, compared with the children of high- and middle-income families, according to the report.
"Accurate self-perception of weight status has been linked to appropriate weight control behaviors in youth," the researchers, from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, wrote in the report published today (July 23). The new findings may help inform public health interventions, they said.
Previous studies have shown that parents also misperceive their children’s weight, and healthcare providers misperceive their patient’s weight, said Dr. Ihuoma U. Eneli, medical director at the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, who was not involved in the study. “It’s not just the kids,” that have misperceptions about weight, Eneli said.