Parents may not notice when children are overweight

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Parents may not notice when children are overweight
Many parents don't realize when their children are overweight and so they fail to help the youngsters shed excess pounds, an Australian study suggests.

When researchers asked parents to report their child's height and weight, the results suggested that about 16 percent of the kids were overweight and 6 percent were obese.

But when parents were asked if their child's weight was healthy or unhealthy, only about 8 percent said they had overweight kids and only 0.2 percent reported an obese child.

And parents who didn't recognize a weight problem in their children were less likely to take steps aimed at solving the problem, said study co-author Dr. Christina Pollard, of the Department of Health in Western Australia and Curtin University School of Public Health in Perth.

"The inaction based on misguided perception is of major concern," Pollard said by email. "Taking action to improve diet and physical activity during childhood can help children avoid a lifetime of being overweight or obese."

To assess how accurately parents could distinguish between healthy and unhealthy weight in their children, Pollard and colleagues reviewed data collected from 4,437 parents from 2009 to 2012 as part of the Western Australia Health and Wellbeing Surveillance System. Children ranged in age from five to 15.

Parents were asked: "Is your child underweight, normal weight, overweight or very overweight?" as well as "What are your intentions regarding your child's weight?"

The majority of parents thought their child was a normal weight, regardless of whether or not this was true based on the measurements they reported for height and weight.

Every parent who thought their child was obese said they planned to help them achieve a healthy weight, as did about 61 percent of parents who said their child was overweight.
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