New York, Feb 5 IANS | 10 months ago

Are you among those parents who do not believe if told that their kids are overweight or obese, ponder over it again.

Even though the childhood obesity rates have risen manifold over the last three decades across the world, more than half of parents do not recognise that their child is overweight.

The startling revelation was made by study conducted by researchers at University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the US.

Graduate student Alyssa Lundahl and Timothy Nelson, assistant professor of psychology, found that more than 50 percent of parents underestimate the weight of their overweight or obese child.

Seeking a clear answer on when and whether parents realise their children are overweight, Lundahl analysed data from 69 studies conducted worldwide between 1990 and 2012, involving children aged 2 to 18.

"Parents who underestimate their children's weight may not encourage healthy eating and physical activities that can optimise their children's health and reduce their risk of obesity," explained Lundahl.

Surprisingly, parents' perceptions about whether their children are overweight have not changed as childhood obesity rates increased, Lundahl noted.

Nor are they influenced by obesity rates in the place where they live.

"No matter where you are and no matter what the rate of obesity is in that area, parents are still underestimating the weight of their overweight children," she said.

Parents of younger children, ages 2 to 5, are less likely to perceive their children as overweight or obese.

Perceptions grow more accurate with age. Parents realise it's not just baby fat any more and they're not going to grow out of it, the study added.

Parents also are less accurate in judging the size of their sons, believing that normal weight sons are actually underweight.

"The cases that are missed by parents are actually really unfortunate because those are the cases where early intervention can have some good effects," Nelson contended.

The study was published in the journal Paediatrics.

(Posted on 05-02-2014)

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