A survey from Australia's Deakin University has found that parents are blind to their children's weight problems. Working with more than 1,000 families, the researchers found that 89 percent of parents of overweight 5-6 year-olds and 63 per cent of parents of overweight 10-12 year-olds were unaware their child was overweight.
"These are quite troubling results and suggest that current obesity prevention campaigns are not hitting the mark with parents," said researcher David Crawford. He added that it was not altogether surprising that many parents were unaware their child was overweight given that; "many adults are not able to recognize overweight in themselves."
Crawford reckons that the lack of recognition of childhood weight problems could be due to some parents - particularly mothers - tending to judge overweight by whether or not their child is teased about their weight at school or has developed limitations in physical activity. He also speculates that with childhood obesity becoming increasingly common, excess weight simply goes unnoticed.
Despite parents' inability to recognize problem weight in their children, Crawford said a substantial proportion of parents reported they employed various strategies to help prevent their child from gaining too much weight. While this is encouraging, Crawford said that less than 10 per cent of parents increased consumption of fruit and vegetables as a potential weight-control strategy, and few reported that they tried to limit or reduce their child's intake of high-energy drinks and limit television viewing.
"Parents are part of the front line in the battle to reverse the trend of obesity in children, it is therefore essential that they are armed with information and practical strategies that they understand and can easily build into their daily lives," he concluded.
Source: Research Australia