Inappropriate maternal perception of child’s weight status: a potential threat to nutrition

Parima Dalal, Rekha Thaddanee, Arun Parikh, Hasmukh Chauhan, Shamim Morbiwala


Background: This study was done to know the maternal perception of weight of their children and correlate it with exact weights. We also studied various factors affecting ability of a mother to perceive her child’s weight status.

Method: This prospective study was done in Pediatric Department of a tertiary care teaching hospital of Western Gujarat, India, from January 2018 to September 2018. 897 mothers of children < 5 years of age were included. Socio-demographic and anthropometric details of child and mother were recorded. Maternal perception of their child’s weight status was enquired. A correlation between perceived and actual child weight status was estimated.

Results: 897 patients <5 years of age had mean (SD) age of 28.66 (±17.04) months, weight 10.17 (±3.5) kg, height 0.81 (±0.15) meters and BMI 15.74 (±15.26) kg/m2. 34.7% of mothers perceived underweight erroneously as compared to actual weight status being normal (p value=0.00001). Misperception (under or over) of the mothers for their children weight status was significant for girls (p=0.011). Significant difference between perceived and actual weight status was seen in birth orders 1 to 4. 34. 6% actual UW children were perceived as NW by < 40 years age mothers (p=0.0018). 78.2% uneducated and 81% of primary or secondary educated mothers from lower SES felt their children were of NW status whereas actually 43.4% and 50.3% children were of NW status respectively (p=0.00001). Surprisingly, 91.3% of graduate or postgraduate mothers of middle SES perceived their children as NW status while actually only 39.1% were of NW and 52.1% of UW (p=0.00001).

Conclusion: Half of the mothers were not able to perceive correct weight status of their children. Misperception was significant for girls. Significant difference between perceived and actual weight status was seen for birth orders 1 to 4. Mothers <40 years of age significantly failed to perceive actual UW status of the children. Both educated and uneducated mothers misclassified their children’s weight status significantly.


Maternal Perception, Normal weight, Nutrition, Obesity, Overweight, Underweight

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