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Children's perceptions of weight, obesity, nutrition, physical activity and related health and socio-behavioural factors

  • Christina D Economos (a1) (a2), Peter J Bakun (a2), Julia Bloom Herzog (a1), Peter R Dolan (a1), Vanessa M Lynskey (a1), Dana Markow (a3), Shanti Sharma (a1) and Miriam E Nelson (a1) (a2)...
Abstract
Objective

Approximately one-third of children in the USA are either overweight or obese. Understanding the perceptions of children is an important factor in reversing this trend.

Design

An online survey was conducted with children to capture their perceptions of weight, overweight, nutrition, physical activity and related socio-behavioural factors.

Setting

Within the USA.

Subjects

US children (n 1224) aged 8–18 years.

Results

Twenty-seven per cent of children reported being overweight; 47·1 % of children overestimated the rate of overweight/obesity among US children. A higher percentage of self-classified overweight children (81·9 %) worried about weight than did self-classified under/normal weight children (31·1 %). Most children (91·1 %) felt that it was important to not be overweight, for both health-related and social-related reasons. The majority of children believed that if someone their age is overweight they will likely be overweight in adulthood (93·1 %); get an illness such as diabetes or heart disease in adulthood (90·2 %); not be able to play sports well (84·5 %); and be teased or made fun of in school (87·8 %). Children focused more on food/drink than physical activity as reasons for overweight at their age. Self-classified overweight children were more likely to have spoken with someone about their weight over the last year than self-classified under/normal weight children.

Conclusions

Children demonstrated good understanding of issues regarding weight, overweight, nutrition, physical activity and related socio-behavioural factors. Their perceptions are important and can be helpful in crafting solutions that will resonate with children.

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Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Email Christina.Economos@tufts.edu
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Public Health Nutrition
  • ISSN: 1368-9800
  • EISSN: 1475-2727
  • URL: /core/journals/public-health-nutrition
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