Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/27/2004
Publication Date: 3/27/2004
Citation: Killion, L., Wendt, J., Hughes, S., Nicklas, T. 2004. Maternal perceptions of their preschool child's body size. Meeting Abstract. Interpretive Summary: AN INTERPRETIVE SUMMARY IS NOT REQUIRED.
Technical Abstract: The prevalence of overweight in preschool children has roughly doubled in the last twenty years and appears to be more prominent in minority children. Overweight children are more likely to become overweight adults; therefore, obesity prevention should begin early in life. Cultural and psychosocial influences are the primary environments where these behaviors develop. In young children, the primary environment is the family, an important social context within which behaviors are developed. The purpose of this study was to examine low-income African American (AA) and Hispanic American (HA) mothers' perceptions of their child's body size and compare it to their child's actual Body Mass Index (BMI). Discrepancy index, the difference between the mother's perception of ideal and current body image of her child, was estimated through the use of figural stimuli. Mother-child dyads (N = 192) were recruited from Head Start Centers in Southeast Texas. Of the mothers, 31.8% were overweight and 43.2% were obese. Thirty-four percent of the children were at risk for overweight (16.1 %) or were overweight (18.2%). Using a hierarchical linear regression to predict child's BMI, 33% of the variance was accounted for by mother's BMI, mother's ethnicity, and the discrepancy index. In this model, the discrepancy index significantly accounted for 26% of the child's BMI. These findings suggest that mother's perception of her child's body image is an important factor in examining the etiology of overweight in preschool children. More research is needed to further understand why a mother's perception of her child's body image affects the weight status of her child.