Health A to Z

Children's Health: Parents ignorant of kids' weight problems

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An Australian study suggests parents see their overweight or obese children through rose-coloured glasses.

By ignoring their child’s extra pounds, parents are laying the foundation for health problems in adulthood, according to Dr. Michele Campbell and her colleagues at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne.

In the study, parents of 341 four-year-old children completed a questionnaire about their child’s weight, and the children were weighed and measured according to international standards.

While 19 per cent of the children were overweight or obese, only five per cent of mothers indicated concern about their child being overweight.

In fact, among mothers whose children were overweight or obese, more than 70 per cent believed the children were of similar weight to their peers.

Parents with overweight sons were much less likely to be concerned about their child’s weight than parents with overweight daughters, suggesting social values about the acceptability of overweight by gender are apparent at an early age.