Parents ‘in denial’ over fat kids

The Age (Aust) October 20, 2008

Parents are in denial about their obese children, with research revealing almost half of those who have overweight kids are unaware they are fat. A study of more than 2100 Victorian children and their families found that 49% of parents with overweight children thought their child was of average, healthy weight. At the opposite end of the spectrum 43% of parents did not recognise their child was unhealthily underweight. Researchers from Melbourne University recorded the body mass index and waist circumference of children aged four to 12.

Doctoral researcher Pene Schmidt said the findings were worrying as parents who perceived their overweight children’s size as normal would be oblivious to the health risks. She called for greater education to help parents understand the healthy weight range for their child’s age. The children themselves also had trouble determining their size. Only 40% of underweight girls and 50% of underweight boys correctly guessed their weight.