By Cari Nierenberg
Nearly 1 in 3 parents whose children were referred to an obesity clinic did not perceive their child’s weight as a health problem, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that 31 percent of parents of obese or overweight children considered their child’s health to be excellent or very good, and 28 percent of parents did not view their child’s weight as a health concern.
It might be hard for parents to be objective about their child’s weight and health unless someone else, such as a pediatrician or school nurse, points out that there may be a problem, said lead author Dr. Kyung Rhee, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.
“I think many parents may think that being slightly chubby is OK, and that their child will grow out of it,” Rhee said.
Or these parents’ perceptions may have something to do with the normalization of obesity in the U.S., Rhee said. As people see more and more overweight people around them, perhaps they don’t recognize they are overweight themselves and don’t realize the medical consequences for a child who remains overweight, she said.
To determine how motivated parents were to help make changes in their child’s eating habits and physical activity levels, the researchers surveyed 202 parents whose children had been referred by a physician to a pediatric obesity clinic in Rhode Island. The kids ranged in age from 5 to 20, and 94 percent of them were obese.
The findings were published online June 23 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Getting kids moving
Although 94 percent of parents surveyed admitted their child was obese or overweight, parents said they found it challenging to help their daughter or son change their behavior to successfully lose weight.