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Información de la revista
Vol. 45. Núm. S2.
1st World Congress of Children and Youth Health Behaviours
Páginas 194-200 (Mayo 2013)
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Vol. 45. Núm. S2.
1st World Congress of Children and Youth Health Behaviours
Páginas 194-200 (Mayo 2013)
Open Access
Nutritional status in preschool children: current trends of mother's body perception and concerns
Graça Aparícioa,
Autor para correspondencia

Correspondence author.
, Madalena Cunhaa, João Duartea, Anabela Pereirab, Jorge Bonitoc, Carlos Albuquerquea
a Health School, Polytechnic Institute of Viseu, Portugal
b University of Aveiro, Portugal
c University of Évora, Portugal
Información del artículo

Studies in several countries indicate that parents show little concern and aren’t much aware of the nutritional status of their children, and have the tendency to underestimate the overweight which may present a difficulty when promoting healthier life styles. The aim of this study was to identify maternal body image perceptions in preschool children and analyze its relationship with nutritional status and family social demographic variables.


A transversal and descriptive study was developed in a sample of 1424 preschool children and their mothers living in several parts of Portugal. The children were weighted and measured by trained personnel, the BMI was calculated and the nutritional status was classified according to the NCHS referential (CDC, 2000).1 Mother's real and ideal body image perception from their children was evaluated according to Collins’ body image silhouettes (1991).2


The ideal and real perception was translated in a negative index on both children's genders, however 67.2% of the mothers revealed accuracy of perception, while 22.3% had a negative and 12.8% a positive discrepancy, being this significant concerning gender and age of the children. Children's actual weight status (ie, 60.2% normal weight, 16.9% overweight, 17.4% obese and 5.5% underweight) was significantly different from their parents’ perceptions (ie, 52.3% normal weight, 27.5% overweight 0,6% obesity and 19.6% underweight) explaining in 25.9% the variability of this perception. Globally 42.3% has no discrepancy but 44.3% thinks that children were thin and 13.4% heavier. This difference is significant concerning the age and scholarship of the mothers but has no relation with the income and residence.


Despite signs of a positive trend, mothers continue to show difficulty in recognizing the children's nutritional status, so effective public health strategies to increase parents’ awareness could be the first step in an effort to prevent childhood obesity.

Weight status
Body image
Mother's perception
Overweight children
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MISIJ project funded by FCT-Monitoring health indicators in children and adolescents: Impact of health education- Reference PTDC/CPE-CED/103313/2008- and CI & DETS FCT-PEstOE/CED/UI4016/2011.

Copyright © 2013. Elsevier España, S.L.. All rights reserved
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