A study finds parents may not be able to spot obesity in their children, with researchers highlighting the enormity of the obesity epidemic .
The research was conducted at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and the University College London Institute of Child Health.
2,976 families in the UK were given questionnaires, with 31 per cent of parents underestimating the weight of their children.
Obesity is a leading cause of type 2 diabetes, with researchers concerned that public interventions to reduce type 2 diabetes, such as promoting healthier eating and getting more exercise, are not being addressed in family homes.
It was only when children had a BMI over the 99th centile – which would class them as obese – that parents became more likely to accurately diagnose their child.
Otherwise, children classed as very overweight (or obese) at the 95th centile, were extremely likely to be classed as a healthy weight by parents.
The researchers, whose findings were published in the British Journal of General Practise, also report that parents are more likely to spot potential health complications if they can correctly recognise their children’s weight.
“If parents are unable to accurately classify their own child’s weight, they may not be willing or motivated to enact the changes to the child’s environment that promote healthy weight maintenance,” said senior author Dr Sanjay Kinra, reader in clinical epidemiology at LSHTM.
Professor Russell Viner, co-author and academic paediatrician at the UCL institute of Child Health, added: “Measures that decrease the gap between parental perceptions of child weight status and obesity scales used by medical professionals may now be needed in order to help parents better understand the health risks associated with overweight and increase uptake of healthier lifestyles.”

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