Concerns and subsequent warnings about the dangers of childhood obesity have made headlines for years. Despite the widespread publicity, it looks like many parents don’t see the problem when it is lurking within their own homes.
Researchers from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, recently determined that approximately half of parents do not recognize overweight or obesity in their own children. The researchers combed 69 studies that “assessed parental perceptions of children’s weight, and then compared perceptions to recognized standards for defining overweight based on anthropometric measures.” The studies took place from 1990 to 2012 and featured children aged 2–18 years.
“Adjusted effect sizes revealed that 50.7% of parents underestimate their overweight/obese children’s weight,” the authors said. “Significant moderators of this effect included child’s age and BMI.”
The authors also indicated that 14.3% of parents underestimate normal weight in their children. “Half of parents underestimated their children’s overweight/obese status, and a significant minority underestimated children’s normal weight,” the authors said. “Pediatricians are well positioned to make efforts to remedy parental underestimates and promote adoption of healthy habits.”
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These findings appeared in Pediatrics (2014; doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-2690).