(HealthDay News) — Today, overweight or obese children are less likely to be perceived as overweight by their parents, as compared with 10 years ago, according to a study published online in Pediatrics.

Andrew R. Hansen, DrPH, from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, and colleagues examined data collected in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 1988 to 1994 (2,871 children) and 2005 to 2010 (3,202 children). 

The researchers sought to examine the generational shifting of parental perceptions regarding children’s (age 6 to 11 years) weight.

The researchers found that for children who were parentally perceived as overweight, the 10th percentile of BMI z scores shifted significantly from the 84th percentile of reference population in the early survey to the 91st percentile in the recent survey (P<.05). 

Between surveys, there was also an increase in the mean BMI z score of children parentally perceived as overweight, with the largest increase among children from poor families (from 1.60 to 1.98; P<.05) and in African-Americans (from 1.65 to 2.02; P<.05). 

There was a 24% decrease between surveys in the probability of overweight or obese children being correctly perceived as overweight by parents (probability ratio, 0.76).

“The declining tendency among parents to perceive overweight children appropriately may indicate a generational shift in social norms related to body weight,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Hansen AR et al. Pediatrics. 2014;doi:10.1542/peds.2014-0012.