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2
May 2015
Parents in denial over children's weight
Childhood obesity has become a growing problem in this country during the last few decades. And now, experts believe part of that problem is so few parents recognise when their child is overweight or obese. In a study published in the British Journal of General Practice, researchers have revealed that out of the parents of nearly 3,000 children, only four described their child as being very overweight or obese. In reality, however, 369 of those children were officially identified as being very overweight according to medical definitions. Since being overweight during childhood puts you at a greater risk of developing health problems when you’re older, the fact that so many parents underestimate their children’s weight could have serious implications for the future. “If parents are unable to accurately classify their own child’s weight, they may not be willing or motivated to enact the changes to the child’s environment that promote healthy weight maintenance,” says Dr Sanjay Kinra of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, one of the report’s authors. The research team gave questionnaires to the parents asking whether they would classify their child as very overweight (obese), overweight, healthy weight or underweight. By analysing their answers, the experts revealed 31 percent of the parents didn’t realise their child had a weight problem. Only those whose children were extremely obese were able to recognise their overweight status accurately. As a result of their findings, the researchers go so far as suggesting that obesity has become the new normal in today’s society. “Measures that decrease the gap between parental perceptions of child weight status and obesity scales used by medical professionals may now be needed in order to help parents better understand the health risks associated with overweight and increase uptake of healthier lifestyles,” says Professor Russell Viner of the UCL institute of Child Health, who co-wrote the report. So what should you do if you suspect your child’s weight may not be as healthy as it should be? First, find out what your child’s body mass index (BMI) is by using our BMI Healthy Weight Calculator. This will give you a good idea of whether or not your child has a weight problem and give you some practical advice. It’s also a good idea to get your child weighed and measured by health professional. You can take them to their GP or pop in to one of many local pharmacies around the country that can weigh, measure and determine your child’s BMI. Your pharmacist can also offer lots of advice on keeping your family’s weight healthy and refer you to your GP, if necessary. Meanwhile, for more information on feeding children a balanced diet, read our article Healthy eating for kids. A combination of factors need to be addressed including children staying indoors for long periods of time watching television or spending significant time in front of computers , tablet devices and video consoles . Snacking on high calorie foods and sugary drinks, not eating enough ( or in some cases any ) fresh fruit and vegetables . Not getting involved in physical exercise and sport will all impact on development and impact on weight and long term health. If we can support parents in getting good health messages to the next generation then this can have a profound impact on the wellbeing of our children in the years to come Childhood obesity has become a growing problem in this country during the last few decades. And now, experts believe part of that problem is so few parents recognise when their child is overweight or obese. In a study published in the British Journal of General Practice, researchers have revealed that out of the parents of nearly 3,000 children, only four described their child as being very overweight or obese. In reality, however, 369 of those children were officially identified as being very overweight according to medical definitions.Since being overweight during childhood puts you at a greater risk of developing health problems when you’re older, the fact that so many parents underestimate their children’s weight could have serious implications for the future.“If parents are unable to accurately classify their own child’s weight, they may not be willing or motivated to enact the changes to the child’s environment that promote healthy weight maintenance,” says Dr Sanjay Kinra of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, one of the report’s authors.The research team gave questionnaires to the parents asking whether they would classify their child as very overweight (obese), overweight, healthy weight or underweight. By analysing their answers, the experts revealed 31 percent of the parents didn’t realise their child had a weight problem. Only those whose children were extremely obese were able to recognise their overweight status accurately.As a result of their findings, the researchers go so far as suggesting that obesity has become the new normal in today’s society.“Measures that decrease the gap between parental perceptions of child weight status and obesity scales used by medical professionals may now be needed in order to help parents better understand the health risks associated with overweight and increase uptake of healthier lifestyles,” says Professor Russell Viner of the UCL institute of Child Health, who co-wrote the report.So what should you do if you suspect your child’s weight may not be as healthy as it should be? First, find out what your child’s body mass index (BMI) is by using our BMI Healthy Weight Calculator. This will give you a good idea of whether or not your child has a weight problem and give you some practical advice.It’s also a good idea to get your child weighed and measured by health professional. You can take them to their GP or pop in to one of many local pharmacies around the country that can weigh, measure and determine your child’s BMI. Your pharmacist can also offer lots of advice on keeping your family’s weight healthy and refer you to your GP, if necessary.Meanwhile, for more information on feeding children a balanced diet, read our article Healthy eating for kids.A combination of factors need to be addressed including children staying indoors for long periods of time watching television or spending significant time in front of computers , tablet devices and video consoles .Snacking on high calorie foods and sugary drinks, not eating enough ( or in some cases any ) fresh fruit and vegetables .Not getting involved in physical exercise and sport will all impact on development and impact on weight and long term health.If we can support parents in getting good health messages to the next generation then this can have a profound impact on the wellbeing of our children in the years to come.
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