: Early childhood obesity in China has become a pressing public health concern. A substantial barrier to healthy weight management is poor parental recognition of child overweight. This study examined the relationship between caregiver perceptions of child weight and dietary practices. Methods
: A total of 364 children between 2 and 6 years old from six urban preschools in Changsha (China) were included in a cross-sectional study. Information on household demographics, health behaviors, and caregiver attitudes was collected through a self-administered caregiver questionnaire. Chi-squared tests, t
-tests, and multivariable logistic regression analysis were used to determine the relationship between caregiver perceptions, dietary behaviors, and child weight status. Results
: Over 60% of caregivers with overweight/obese children underestimated their children’s weight status. These caregivers were less likely to worry about weight and restrict their children’s dietary intakes. Children of caregivers who incorrectly classified their weights were also more likely to have a poor appetite. Caregivers of male children and those from families with incomes between 7000 and 11,000 Ren Min Bi (RMB) were more likely to underestimate weight compared to caregivers with daughters and those from higher income households. Conclusions
: Although accurate weight perception may be important for motivating healthy behavioral changes, it may also lead to greater restriction of children’s diets, which has been linked to long-term weight gain. Interventions to improve awareness of child overweight should be coupled with efforts that teach caregivers about healthy weight management strategies.
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