Date of Award

Fall 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Health Services Research


Community and Environmental Health

Committee Director

Muge Akpinar-Elci

Committee Member

Praveen Durgampudi

Committee Member

Hazida Galadima


Since the 1970’s the rate of childhood obesity in the United States has tripled and now one in five school-aged children is obese (Ogden et al., 2016). The childhood obesity epidemic will have medical, social, economic implications for future generations. Risk factors for childhood obesity include genetics, food intake, and physical activity, maternal health during pregnancy, parental weight, maternal employment and sociodemographic influences. This study examined the relationship between caregiver misperception of their preschoolers’ overweight/obese weight status and possible predictors that may assist in future interventions. The study evaluated NHANES data of 1245 caregivers with a child under age five in their household and 825 children ages two to five in the years 2015 and 2016. The predictors of body mass index (BMI) categories of overweight and obese in an adult caregiver of children under age five and preschool children age two to five were examined. The analyses included descriptive statistics, correlations and multinomial logistic regressions.

The 61.1% of adults with a child in the household under age five reported “I think I am overweight” are in the obese BMI category and only 30.6% of the overweight adults perceived themselves as “I think I am overweight”. The caregivers who completed a questionnaire about their preschool child, 11.7% reported “think your child weight is about right” when the child’s BMI was in the obese category and 16.0 % of the children in the overweight BMI category were incorrectly identified by their caregiver as “about right”. The adult group’s perception of their own weight as well as their child’s weight was miscategorized.