Is Childhood Overweight/Obesity Perceived as a Health Problem by Mothers of Preschool Aged Children in Bangladesh? A Community Level Cross-Sectional Study


Childhood obesity is rapidly rising in many developing countries such as Bangladesh; however, the factors responsible for this increase are not well understood. Being the primary caregivers of children, particularly in developing countries, maternal perceptions and knowledge could be important factors influencing the weight status of children. This study aimed to assess maternal perceptions of childhood obesity and associated socio-demographic factors in Bangladesh. A cross-sectional study using stratified random sampling was conducted among 585 mothers whose children aged 4 to 7 years attended preschools in a district town. Body Mass Index of the children was calculated and weight status categorized according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) criteria. Maternal perceptions were assessed using a self- or interviewer-administered questionnaire. Multinomial logistic regression was used to obtain crude and adjusted odds ratios. Fourteen percent of children were overweight or obese and approximately 30% were underweight. Only 3.1% of children were perceived as overweight/obese by their mothers. Over one-third (35%) of mothers perceived that childhood overweight/obesity could be a health problem and over two-thirds (68.6%) were not aware of any health consequences of childhood obesity. Maternal perceptions were significantly associated with maternal education, family income, and weight status of the child but were not associated with the sex of the child. We have identified knowledge gaps regarding maternal perception of childhood obesity and its contributing factors in a developing country. These findings can be used to develop and test parent-focused educational interventions for preventing childhood obesity in Bangladesh.

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (Available Online)