Although the prevalence of fully expressed Eating Disorders is rare in young children, childhood eating disturbances are fairly common. Parents can play a facilitating role for the development of overweight and eating problems among their children. The aim of this study is to detect the possible relationships between children’s eating attitudes and behaviour and the parents’ beliefs about eating habits and body shape of their offspring.

This survey was conducted in the area of Arezzo (Italy), on 900 children, aged 7-12, and on their parents/substitute caregivers. The Kids’ Eating Disorder Survey questionnaire, and the CIBUS questionnaire were administered.

A fully expressed Eating Disorder was diagnosed in two kids only. KEDS total score and weight/dissatisfaction subscale score positively correlated with parents’ answers to the following CIBUS’ items (How do you consider the body shape of your son/daughter? How much does your son/daughter eats? Have you ever thought of putting your son/daughter on a diet?). Positive correlations between the children BMI, desired BMI and the aforementioned CIBUS’ items were found.

The prevalence of formal Eating Disorders in children aged 7-12 is low. Children appear to be more preoccupied with their weight than with their body shape. Parents’ beliefs about the offspring’s body shape and eating habits have a relevant impact on children’s eating attitudes and behaviour.

Key Words: Body shape, body weight, childhood, parents eating behaviour.
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