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Wednesday, 27 August 2014 11:57

Parents Fail to Recognize Childhood Obesity

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A new childhood obesity study at Georgia Southern University shows that parents are less likely to recognize childhood obesity in their kids. The study found more than three-quarters of parents incorrectly perceived their overweight children as "about the right weight."

The study compared parent responses over two periods, 1988–1994 and 2005–2010. It found that the, "probability of overweight/obese children being correctly perceived as overweight by the parents declined by 24% between surveys."

According to Dr. Jian Zhang, the study author, "parents incorrectly believe their kids are healthy; they are less likely to take action, and so it increases the likelihood their kids will become even less healthy." Karen Kaplan of the LA Times provides a great analysis of the study which shows the trend is increasing over time.

The study suggests parents judge their children's weight according to their kids' peers. Parents wish to avoid stigmatizing children by labeling them overweight. And some parents are simply in denial about their children's weight, especially in poor families.

Obesity is determined by BMI (body mass index) or height and weight. It is an important screening tool for recognizing obesity.

The family physician is the first line of defense against childhood obesity. Amanda Staiano, PhD of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center says that "pediatricians are essential to breaking the vicious cycle of innacurate perceptions of weight and parenting."

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