Can parents not know if their child is overweight?

Answer to the blog title: Yes

When I look back at classroom pictures from 30 years ago, so many kids look thin compared to today’s kids.  Perhaps, the perception of what is normal has been lost.  In fact, recent studies (doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-2690) indicate that parents often do not know whether their child is overweight,  especially between the ages of 2-5.

A link from NY Times twitter feed: 

An excerpt:

Many parents apparently believe their children are leaner than they actually are.  A review of studies published in Pediatrics found that two-thirds of parents underestimate the weight of their offspring.

“If parents don’t recognize that their children are overweight, that prevents them from undertaking actions to correct it,” said the lead author, Alyssa Lundahl, a graduate student in psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln…

Ms. Lundahl and her colleagues reviewed 121 studies that included more than 80,000 parental estimates of the weight of their children who were between the ages of 2 and 19. More than half of parents of overweight and obese children underestimated their weight, and so did about 14 percent of parents of normal weight children. Parents were most likely to underestimate the weight of 2- to 5-year olds.

The reasons for the misunderstanding are not known…“When health care professionals are able to correct a parent’s false impression,” Ms. Lundahl said, “they are more likely to do something about it.”

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3 thoughts on “Can parents not know if their child is overweight?

  1. Pingback: Is Water The Best Beverage for Dieters? Maybe Not | gutsandgrowth

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