Many studies have evaluated BMI screening, communication, and follow-up recommendations in the outpatient setting. However, few studies have examined parental attitudes toward using the inpatient setting as a time to screen and counsel families regarding their child’s BMI. We sought to study parental attitudes about overweight and obesity screening in the inpatient setting.


Parents (N = 101) of children aged 2 to 18 years admitted to a general pediatric hospital or surgical service were queried regarding their attitudes about screening and counseling for overweight and obesity. Children’s age, gender, height, weight, and diagnosis codes were extracted from electronic medical records and billing databases. BMI was calculated, plotted, and categorized according to standard Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts and expert recommendation.


Fourteen percent of children in the study were overweight, and 17% were obese. Parents of overweight and obese children underestimated their child’s weight status 68% of the time. The majority believed admitted children should always have their BMI calculated. Almost all parents (90%) indicated that their inpatient physician should inform them if their child were overweight or obese and that primary care providers should be informed of the results of BMI screening.


Parents of children admitted to the hospital believed their children should have their BMI screened. If their child was overweight or obese, parents believed they should be informed, and counseling should be initiated. These findings support using the inpatient time to screen and communicate BMI.

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