Parents’ perception of physical activity and body mass in their children compared to BMI and physical fitness test results – examination of 8369 children
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Gdańsk Health Promotion Centre, Gdańsk, Poland
Department of Rehabilitation and Orthopedics, School of Medicine, Collegium Medicum, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland
Faculty of Health Sciences with Institute of Maritime and Tropical Medicine, Medical University of Gdansk, Poland
Department of Public Health and Social Medicine, Medical University of Gdansk, Poland
Katarzyna Zaborowska-Sapeta   

Department of Rehabilitation and Orthopedics, School of Medicine, Collegium Medicum, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Żołnierska 18a, Olsztyn, Poland. Tel. +48 694 064 042.
Submission date: 2021-05-14
Final revision date: 2021-07-15
Acceptance date: 2021-07-15
Online publication date: 2021-09-10
The level of parents’ knowledge and ability to evaluate a child’s health condition is crucial when making decisions concerning physical activity levels and dietary patterns.

This study assessed parents’ views versus the actual health status of their children using anthropometric examinations and performance test results.

Material and methods:
The research involved an examination of 8369 children aged 6–7 years and an analysis of responses provided by parents to a questionnaire of the general health status of children, their physical activity, and estimated average time spent passively. Responses were compared to the results of a performance test and anthropometric measurements, classified according to centile grids for a given age and sex.

Results and discussion:
In total, 85% of guardians did not notice obesity in a child whose BMI was in the 95th percentile or above. Guardians of children with very bad physical performance evaluated their general health condition as very good (42%) or good (50%), which means that 92% of guardians were not aware of their child’s very low exercise capacity. In total, 75% of guardians of children with very poor fitness believed that their child had a sufficient amount of physical activity during the day.

Parents or guardians of children with excessive body weight have a low level of awareness of obesity and have no awareness of their children’s very low physical performance. We conclude that there is a great need for comprehensive education of societies regarding the importance of physical activity and nutrition for the health of children and youth.

We thank the children and their parents for time and agreement to participate in the study.
The research material was collected as part of statutory activities of the Center for Health Promotion and Child Physical Fitness in Gdańsk. The Center is a budgetary unit of the City of Gdańsk established to operate in 1992. Its statutory tasks are to create and implement comprehensive, interdisciplinary programs to promote a healthy lifestyle and early detection of risk factors for the development of civilization diseases in children of Gdańsk.
The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.
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