Reuters 21 February 2008
Many parents of children classified as overweight or even extremely overweight do not perceive their child as being excessively heavy, with some wrongly believing that their child is “about the right weight,” new research suggests. In addition, if the parent fails to perceive a weight issue, odds are the child will also fail to see a problem. These findings are “important” and “troublesome,” the researchers say in their report in the medical journal Diabetes Care, because recognition that a child is overweight is a critical first step to making diet and lifestyle changes to promote weight loss.
Dr. Asheley Cockrell Skinner of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and colleagues interviewed 104 adolescents with type 2 diabetes and their parents about perceptions of the adolescents’ weight, diet and exercise habits. To gauge weight perceptions, the teens and their parents were asked if they thought the adolescents were “very overweight, slightly overweight, about right, slightly thin, or very thin?” While 87 percent of children were overweight by accepted standards, “only 41 percent of parents and 35 percent of adolescents considered the adolescent to be ‘very overweight’,” the team reports.