Have parents today grown so accustomed to obesity in children that they don't recognize the signs in their own kids? That's the conclusion of a new study published today that found that when compared with parents from a decade ago, parents today are less likely to identify their own kids as overweight — even when they clearly are.
The study, published online in Pediatrics, found that parental perceptions of their child's weight may influence their ability to make healthy changes for their children. For the study, researchers asked parents — mostly mothers — whether children were overweight, underweight,or at just the right weight. The children were between the ages of 6 and 11. After controlling for the child's actual weight, researchers compared the data from surveys completed between 2005-2010 and those completed between 1988-1994.
Researchers used arbitrary BMI, or body mass index, scores to determine if the children were overweight. But the use of BMI as a tool to determine overweight and obesity is not really the point as they used the same scale for both research periods. What is interesting is whether or not the parents of kids with a certain BMI thought their kids were overweight, compared to parents of kids with that same BMI 10 or more years ago.
And what they found is that parents today are 24 percent less likely to correctly identify their kids as overweight compared with parents a decade or more ago. This indicates a generational shift in what parents perceive as a weight problem among kids. And it also might mean that those same parents will be less likely to make healthier changes to the family's diet and exercise routines than parents who were worried about their children's weight.
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