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Weight status and body image perception in Italian children

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Abstract Background 

Previous research suggests there is a tendency in overweight subjects to underestimate their weight status. This study investigated the perception of body image in Italian children, with particular regard to overweight children. Methods 

Primary school children (n = 866) were recruited for this cross-sectional nutritional survey in northern Italy. Anthropometric measurements were performed to determine body mass index (BMI). Body image perception was assessed with the Body Silhouette Chart for preadolescent children shown to the children and to their mothers (n = 778) during an interview. A new scheme to identify wrong (F.1, F.2) or inappropriate (F.3) self figure responses in overweight subjects was used. Results 

More than one-third of the Italian children examined were above the normal BMI range (prevalence of overweight: 35.8%, girls; 37.2%, boys). A higher degree of dissatisfaction was expressed by girls than by boys, and the percentage increased in overweight/obese children. A discrepancy between the self figure perception and the real nutritional status of the subject occurred in 6–9% of the overweight/obese children. Conclusion 

The comparison of body image perception and anthropometric assessment of nutritional status could play an important role in future programs of nutritional surveillance as they provide indications of dissatisfaction and body image disturbances.
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Keywords: anthropometry; body image; children; obesity; overweight

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology and Evolution, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy 2: Public Health Service Bologna, Bologna, Italy 3: Department of Evolutive Experimental Biology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

Publication date: 2008-02-01

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