Your child isn’t obese, right? It’s just “baby weight” that will go away on its own. He’s big for his age, just like his dad was. She has inherited the big bones that run in the family. But, your child certainly couldn’t be obese. Are you sure? A study shows that parents can underestimate their child’s obesity.
A study was published in the British Journal of General Practice in April of 2015. It was called “Child obesity cut-offs as derived from parental perceptions: cross-sectional questionnaire”. The purpose was to compare parental perception of their child’s weight with objectively derived assessment of the child’s weight.
The study involved 2,975 parents in the UK. Parents were asked whether they viewed their child’s weight as obese, overweight, underweight, or at a healthy weight. The results showed that nearly a third of all parents underestimated their child’s weight.
Researchers found that 31% of the parents truly believed that their child’s weight was lower than it actually was. There were a total of 369 children in the study who were medically considered to be obese. Only 4 of the parents who had obese children were able to recognize it.
The conclusion of the study was: “Parents became more likely to classify their children as underweight when they are at the 8th centile or below, and overweight at the 99th centile or above. Parents were more likely to underestimate a child’s weight if the child was black or South Asian, male, more deprived, or the child was older.”
What can parents do to get an accurate assessment of their child’s weight? One simple way is to pay attention when your child is weighed at his or her next doctor’s appointment. Ask the doctor how much your child weighs, what his or her BMI is, and if that number is a healthy weight.
A doctor can help parents figure out what to do if it turns out their child is obese. The doctor might be able to identify sources of the problem that parents have overlooked. For example, some medications can cause a person to gain weight, or to make it harder to lose weight. A doctor might find that your child has an untreated health issue that is causing him or her to become obese.
Kids today don’t play outside as much as today’s parents did when they were children. Much of children’s entertainment comes in the form of video games, which (for the most part) require children to sit down for hours at a time. One thing parents can do to help prevent a child from becoming obese is to get the family involved in regular exercise.
Image by David Holt on Flickr.
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