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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Weight perceptions of parents with children at risk for diabetes

Eva M Vivian1*, Tara L Becker2 and Aaron L Carrel3

Author Affiliations

1 School of Pharmacy, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1036 Rennebohm Hall, Madison, WI 53705, USA

2 University of California Los Angeles Graduate Division, 1237 Murphy Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1419, USA

3 Department Pediatrics, Clinical Science Center, School of Medicine and Public Health, 600 Highland Ave, Box 4108, Madison, WI 53792, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:47  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-47

Published: 20 January 2012



The growing epidemic of obesity and diabetes among African American, Latino American, and Native American children in the United States has led to increasing focus on strategies for prevention. However, little is known about the perceptions toward weight, nutrition, and physical activity among these youth. This pilot study explored the perceptions of body weight among overweight and obese children and their parents.


Thirty eight children, ages 8-16 years who were enrolled in a diabetes prevention study were surveyed to assess their perception of their weight. Nearly all (84%) of the children were obese. When asked whether they considered themselves to be overweight, African-American children were less likely to report that they were overweight than other children (33% vs. 80% of other children, p = 0.01). The parents of these children (n = 29) were also surveyed to assess their perception of their child's weight. The parents of two-thirds (65%) of the children reported that the child was overweight, while the rest reported their child was underweight or the right weight. African-American parents were less likely to report that their child's weight was unhealthy compared to other parents (46% vs. 77%, p = 0.069).


This study's findings indicate that future intervention efforts should assess children's and parents' awareness of obesity and diabetes risk and these factors should be considered when developing prevention interventions for families with youth at risk for diabetes in underserved communities.