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Parents’ perceptions and dissatisfaction with child silhouette: associated factors among 7-year-old children of the Generation XXI birth cohort

Abstract

Purpose

We compared parent’s perceived child’s silhouette, and investigated predictors of their dissatisfaction.

Methods

Participants were 4930 mother–child dyads enrolled at a Portuguese birth cohort. Parents’ perceptions of child’s current and desired silhouette was assessed and dissatisfaction with child’s silhouette was defined as the discrepancy between these ratings (current–desired body). Multinomial logistic regressions, adjusted for potential confounders, were performed.

Results

Mothers were more dissatisfied with child’s silhouette, compared to fathers, in all weight categories. Mothers and fathers of girls were more dissatisfied, preferring thinner silhouettes (OR = 2.77, 95% CI 2.19; 3.51 and OR = 2.08, 95% CI 1.18; 3.66, respectively), compared to parents of boys. Lower birth weight increased maternal desire for a heavier child silhouette. Younger (< 20 years) and less educated (≤ 9 years of schooling) mothers were more dissatisfied with their child’s silhouette, preferring heavier children (OR = 1.65, 95% CI 1.10; 2.48 and OR = 1.73, 95% CI 1.42; 2.09, respectively). Parents’ own dissatisfaction was also associated with child’s silhouette dissatisfaction.

Conclusion

Sociodemographic characteristics and parents’ dissatisfaction with their own silhouette influenced their dissatisfaction with child’s silhouette and should be considered when developing obesity interventions.

Level of evidence

Level III, case–control analytic study.

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Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge the families enrolled in the study cohort for their kindness, all members of the research team for their enthusiasm and perseverance and the participating hospitals and their staff for their help and support. We also acknowledge the support from the Epidemiology Research Unit (UID-DTP/04750/2013; POCI-01-0145-FEDER-006862).

Funding

Generation XXI was funded by the Health Operational Programme–Saúde XXI, Community Support Framework III and the Regional Department of Ministry of Health. This study was supported through FEDER from the Operational Programme Factors of Competitiveness–COMPETE and through national funding from the Foundation for Science and Technology–FCT (Portuguese Ministry of Education and Science) under the projects “Appetite regulation and obesity in childhood: a comprehensive approach towards understanding genetic and behavioural influences” (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-030334; PTDC/SAU-EPI/30334/2017); “Appetite and adiposity–evidence for gene-environment interplay in children” (IF/01350/2015); and through Investigator/Scientific Employment Stimulus Contracts (IF/01350/2015–A.O.; CEECIND/01793/2017–A.H.). It had also support from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Portugal.

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Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

SW was responsible for study concept, data analysis and interpretation; drafting of the manuscript and final approval of the version to be published. AH was responsible for critical revision of the manuscript, and final approval of the version to be published. AO was co-responsible for study concept; interpretation of data; critical revision of the manuscript, and final approval of the version to be published. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sarah Warkentin.

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Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interests relevant to this article to disclose.

Ethical approval

Generation XXI was approved by the University of Porto Medical School/ S. João Hospital Centre Ethics Committee and by the Portuguese Data Protection Authority. All the phases of the study complied with the Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects expressed in the Declaration of Helsinki.

Consent to participate

A written informed assent from the parents (or legal substitute) and an oral consent from the children were obtained in each evaluation.

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Warkentin, S., Henriques, A. & Oliveira, A. Parents’ perceptions and dissatisfaction with child silhouette: associated factors among 7-year-old children of the Generation XXI birth cohort. Eat Weight Disord 26, 1595–1607 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40519-020-00953-0

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40519-020-00953-0

Keywords

  • Parents
  • Body dissatisfaction
  • Pediatric obesity
  • Body image
  • Weight perception