Parents are in a prime position to ensure the future health of their children, and part of that means knowing when a child’s health is at risk. Unfortunately, researchers from the University of Limerick in Ireland have determined that some mothers assess their children’s weight status incorrectly.
Published in Archives of Disease in Childhood (2015; doi:10.1136/archdis child-2015-308721), the study included 7,655 mothers and their 9-year-old children. The goal was to understand each woman’s perceptions of her own weight and her child’s weight and compare these against actual measures.
The women fared reasonably well at categorizing their own weight status—their accuracy rate was 60%. However, they weren’t very successful at recognizing obesity in their children. Only 17% of mothers with an obese child accurately assessed the child’s status. Those who correctly categorized their own status as obese or overweight were more likely to be accurate about their child’s weight than women whose self-assessments were incorrect.
“Open and honest discussions between health professionals and parents about the child’s weight status should be encouraged,” suggested study coauthor professor Clodagh O’Gorman in a press release, “together with practical strategies for helping the family maintain a healthy weight. Importantly, weight control measures aimed at children should be family-based and include all family members.”