Weight status and diets of children aged 1–12 years attending a tertiary public paediatric outpatient clinic

Suja M. Mathew, Lucinda K. Bell, Chelsea Mauch, Anthea M. Magarey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: To assess the weight status and diets of a sample of paediatric outpatients, explore the relationship between the two and compare child weight status with parental perception of child weight and parents' self-reported weight. Methods: Parents/carers of 1–12-year-olds attending paediatric outpatients at Flinders Medical Centre, South Australia, between October 2015 and May 2016 completed a demographic and validated age-based dietary questionnaire (toddlers (1–3 years), pre-schoolers (>3 to <5 years) or children (5–12 years)). Dietary risk scores (low/moderate/high/very high) were calculated for toddlers and pre-schoolers and diet quality and food behaviours scores for children. Body mass index (BMI) z-score and weight status were determined from measured height and weight. Results: Of 114 toddlers, 115 pre-schoolers and 250 children, 65% were of a healthy weight, 10% underweight and 25% overweight or obese. Most (~80%) toddlers and pre-schoolers had diets classified as ‘moderate’ risk, and the diets (35–90%) and behaviours (90%) of most 5–12-year-olds fell short of the guidelines. There was no significant relationship between overall diet risk or quality and BMI z-score. Healthier food behaviours scores were inversely correlated with BMI z-scores (ß −0.061, 95% confidence interval (CI) −0.089, −0.033, P < 0.005). Parents' perception of child weight status was inaccurate. Parent's self-reported weight status was significantly associated with the BMI z-scores of toddlers (ß 0.301, 95% CI 0.189–1.174, P = 0.007) and pre-schoolers (ß 0.220, 95% CI 0.032–0.859, P = 0.035). Conclusions: Poor diets and high rates of overweight/obesity highlight the need for screening within the paediatric outpatient setting. Parents' own weight status, and their inaccurate perception of their child's, should be considered future intervention targets for improving child and parent health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-54
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • child diet
  • child obesity; dietary questionnaire
  • food behaviours
  • parental perception
  • parental weight


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