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INTRODUCTION: In Portugal, 20% to 40% of children and adolescents are overweighted and 10% to 15% are obese. Parents play a key role in its prevention, as they determine their children’s diet and lifestyle.
METHODS: Cross-sectional study of 131 10-year-old children’s and their caregivers’ body image perception. Participants selected the Collins silhouettes according to what they perceived as real and ideal body images. The chosen images were compared with the children’s body mass index (BMI) categories, to characterize their body self-perception (BMI versus real images) and their desire to change (BMI versus ideal images).
RESULTS: Most participants were female (62.6%) and accompanied by their parents (94.9%). About 40% of the children were overweight and 17% had obesity. About 15% of children (p<0.05) and 25% of caregivers (p=0.48) underestimated the real image. Fifty percent of children (p<0.05) and one-third of caregivers (p<0.05) wanted an image of a lower category. Eighteen percent of children with overweight and obesity wanted to have an image of a lower category and 5% of normal-weight children wanted to be underweight.
CONCLUSION: We identified a high proportion of individuals without a real perception of body image and with a desire for change, an opportunity for intervention by healthcare teams.
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