UCL Health


Supporting health professionals in talking to parents of preschoolers about weight

This project will develop a language and visual toolbox to support health professionals in talking to parents about overweight and obesity among preschool children

22 May 2018


Epidemiological studies have shown strong tracking of weight from infancy and early childhood to early adulthood. Identifying preschool children who have developed overweight or obesity is a necessary first step to intervening early. Studies have shown that few parents recognise when their young child becomes overweight or obese. Recognition of child overweight is crucial if parents are to engage in behaviour change to help their child achieve a healthy weight. 


This project will develop effective educational resources for health professionals to use when interacting with parents in order to identify preschool children who have developed overweight and facilitate positive conversations around child weight.


  • The overall aim of this project is to produce the very first anatomically accurate 3D body images of preschool children and provide policy-relevant insights into the utility of these scales as a tool to aid parental recognition of their preschool child’s weight status.
  • The project will involve the development of an anatomically accurate 3D body image scale of pre-school children using an innovative 3D surface body scanning technique
  • It will also identify effective communication techniques to support health professionals in initiating conversations with parents of pre-school children who have developed overweight
  • This research project is a collaboration between researchers at University College London, the University of Leeds, the Person Perception Centre at the University of Lincoln, and the University of Newcastle.


  • Development of 3D body image scale (ongoing - October 2018)
  • Development of online software version of visual scale to train health professional to accurately identify overweight (ongoing - January 2019)
  • Acceptability and feasibility testing of 3D body image scale to increase parental engagement with child weight (ongoing – January 2020)


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The NIHR Policy Research Unit in Healthy Weight is part of the NIHR and hosted by UCL.