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Measuring obesity in young children

TitleMeasuring obesity in young children
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsPhipps, S., Burton P., Lethbridge L., and Osberg L.
JournalCanadian Public Policy
Pages349 - 364

Child obesity is currently an important policy problem in Canada. Making the best evidence-based policy choices in response requires having the best possible evidence. Yet, we point out how easy it can be to make serious mistakes when measuring child obesity, particularly for young children. We demonstrate that parental reports of child height and weight very likely overestimate obesity prevalence for very young children. Given the importance of child obesity as a policy issue, our main conclusion is that it is critical for national surveys in Canada to provide interviewers with appropriate equipment and ask them to weigh and measure children very accurately. While this would certainly increase survey costs, the costs to society of making less than the best policy choices are likely to be even higher.

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