141st APHA Annual Meeting

In This section

What is ‘normal'? discrepancies between BMI classification vs. perceived weight status in social context

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 8:30 AM - 8:50 AM

Tiho Enev, PhD , Capacity and Knowledge Development, Nemours Health and Prevention Services, Newark, DE
The study identifies significant discrepancies between the clinical weight status and perceived body size of children and adolescents and the cultural, generational, and gender differences associated with these discrepancies. The analysis is based on data from two state-wide, multi-year population surveys conducted in Delaware: • The Delaware Survey of Children's Health collects data about children's behaviors and family and neighborhood environments from over 3000 parents. A child's height and weight are obtained from the parents and primary care providers to compute child's BMI; parents are also asked about their perception of the child's weight status. • The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System collects data from a representative sample of middle and high school students. The students report their height and weight as well as their perception of their weight status and intentions of changing it. The stratified sampling design and systemic multiple administrations of both surveys allow for exploring the changes in body weight and body weight perceptions over time and across generations and demographics. The study reveals consistent cultural and gender discrepancies in body size perceptions and contributes to the general knowledge on this topic with its scope, multi-year data collection, and the number of demographic variables it utilizes. The findings expand the theoretical framework by providing cross-sectional, generational and longitudinal perspectives to inform the design and implementation of public health initiatives. They highlight the need to develop targeted and comprehensive public health strategies taking into consideration not only cultural and gender differences but also generational perspectives and biases.

Learning Areas:
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the discrepancies between children’s clinical body weight classification and the ‘social’ perception of body weight as reported by parents and by children. Discuss demographic and generational differences in body weight perceptions. Compare changes in perceptions over time. Identify strategies to inform public health initiatives.

Keywords: Children's Health, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal and co investigator on multiple studies and grants exploring the public health aspect of childhood obesity and health promotion and prevention initiatives in early childhood. Integral part of my scientific work and interest has been the studying of various behaviors associated with childhood obesity and how it is perceived by various social agents.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.