This study examined the weight control and food habits in 160 obese children and 191 normal-weight children in 4th, 5th and 6th graders of some elementary schools in Gumi city. Regarding the subjects' self-recognition of their body shape, 27.8% of the normal weight group and 92.5% of the obese group acknowledged themselves to be obese. 58.9% of the normal weight group and 61.0% of the obese group were not satisfied with their own body shape and the difference between two groups was very small, 23.6% of the normal weight group and 87.5% of the obese group have tried to reduce weight. The main causative factor of weight gain that children themselves recognized was a sedentary life style. All the students showed a high rate of irregular and unbalanced diet. The obese children showed a significantly higher rate of skipping meals and eating meals faster than the normal weight children. More obese children disliked exercise, and did less excercise than the normal weight children. There was a negative correlation between the obesity index and the food habit score. In other words, they frequently skip a meals, eat in a hurry and dislike vegetables and dairy products. In addition, there was a positive correlation between the student's BMI and the parents' BMI. Overall, many normal weight children showed a high level of self-consciousness of being obese or underweight. Both groups showed a low degree of satisfaction with their own body shape. Therefore education for the distorted perception of body shape is needed because, even normal weight children have tried to reduce their weight. Obese children should be encouraged to exercise, not skip a meals and eat slowly. They also need a systematic education program on weight reduction and weight maintenance. Moreover, education on a healthy diet, healthy food habits, and healthy body shape are necessary for elementary school children.
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