IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Measuring Obesity in Young Children


  • Shelley Phipps
  • Peter Burton
  • Lynn Lethbridge
  • Lars Osberg


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Shelley Phipps & Peter Burton & Lynn Lethbridge & Lars Osberg, 2004. "Measuring Obesity in Young Children," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 30(4), pages 349-364, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:30:y:2004:i:4:p:349-364

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: only available to JSTOR subscribers

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Spies, Paul, 1990. "Variable electricity prices for aluminium smelting in northwestern USA," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 162-169, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Lars Osberg & Jiaping Shao & Kuan Xu, 2009. "The growth of poor children in China 1991–2000: why food subsidies may matter," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(S1), pages 89-108, April.
    2. Price, Joseph & Swigert, Jeffrey, 2012. "Within-family variation in obesity," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 333-339.
    3. Joan Costa Font & Mireia Jofre-Bonet & Julian Le Grand, 2015. "Vertical Transmission of Overweight: Evidence From English Adoptees," CEP Discussion Papers dp1324, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    4. Phipps, Shelley A. & Lethbridge, Lynn & Burton, Peter, 2006. "Long-run consequences of parental paid work hours for child overweight status in Canada," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 977-986, February.
    5. Statistics Canada, 2006. "Income and the Outcomes of Children," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2006281e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    6. Shelley Phipps, 2007. "Health Outcomes for CHILDREN in Canfrrada, England, Norway and the United States," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 80(1), pages 179-221, January.
    7. Tarabashkina, Liudmila & Quester, Pascale & Crouch, Roberta, 2016. "Exploring the moderating effect of children's nutritional knowledge on the relationship between product evaluations and food choice," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 145-152.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:30:y:2004:i:4:p:349-364. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Prof. Werner Antweiler). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.