Most Parents See 'Nothing Wrong' with Overweight or Obese Children

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By Reissa Su | July 30, 2014 5:24 PM EST

A new study has revealed nearly 1 in 3 parents think their obese children do not have health problems. Researchers found children who were asked to visit an obesity clinic have parents who think their overall health is "excellent" or "very good."

REUTERS
Eight-month-old Santiago Mendoza sits at a clinic for the obese in Bogota March 19 ,2014. Mendoza, who weighs 20 kg, will be put on a diet, therapist Salvador Palacios said.

About 31 per cent of parents of overweight or obese children see them as in excellent or very good health while 28 per cent do not find anything wrong with their children's weight.

Researchers suggest it may be difficult for parents to be "objective" about their child's weight and general health unless a physician or school nurse raises the concern. According to lead researcher Dr Kyung Rhee, an assistant professor of pediatrics at University of California's San Diego School of Medicine, most parents think "being slightly chubby is okay" and think their children will just outgrow the weight.

In the U.S., researchers indicate that parents' perceptions about child obesity may be linked with the "normalisation" of obesity in the country. As people are getting used to see more obese people around them, they may no longer recognise they have become overweight. This can also affect their difficulty to realise their obese children may be having health problems.

Researchers suggest parents start to help their children develop healthy eating habits and more active lifestyles. Other studies have found that most children who were obese or overweight in their preteen years will remain the same when they enter adulthood.

Rhee said healthcare providers will need to make an effort when talking to parents about their children's weight gain and lack of physical activities.

In Australia, children as young as eight years old are dealing with body images issues as they worry about being overweight. A body perception study by the Australian Institute of Family Studies has revealed primary age school children are concerned about their weight despite their young age.

Data showed many 10-year-old Aussies are thinking about managing their weight. Half of the children studied who had normal weight or were underweight were found to be unhappy with their bodies. Three new studies also found that three quarters of overweight children have issues with their body size.

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(Photo: REUTERS / John Vizcaino)
Eight-month-old Santiago Mendoza sits at a clinic for the obese in Bogota March 19 ,2014. Mendoza, who weighs 20 kg, will be put on a diet, therapist Salvador Palacios said.
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