A new study shows that parents’ guessing that their child is overweight did not protect child from gaining further weight. Instead, child may gain more weight during childhood.
In order to assess whether parents are good at accurately identifying their child’s weight status, researchers examined data on more than 3500 Australian children and their parents for eight years. At the time of joining the study, children were 4 to 5 years old.
The research team included Dr. Eric Robinson of the University of Liverpool in the U.K. and Angelina Sutin of Florida State University College of Medicine in Tallahassee.
The study’s results show that children whose parents perceived their weight as being “overweight” as opposed to “about the right weight” gained more weight from baseline to follow-up in all analyses. All children gained weight, but parents who perceived their child’s weight status as “overweight” gained more weight across the 8-year follow-up compared with children whose parents perceived their weight as being “normal.”
“Contrary to popular belief, these findings suggest that a parent’s perception of his or her child as “overweight” is not a protective factor against weight gain and is instead associated with an increased risk of future weight gain across childhood,” according to the study published in Pediatrics.
In the United States alone, >15% of children are classed as being of obese body weight. One consequence of the worldwide obesity pandemic is that more people are now classified as overweight than “normal” weight in many countries. With overweight now the norm, both medical professionals and the general public have difficulty identifying who is overweight or obese.
Further studies are required to figure out how parental perceptions of child weight may contribute to overweight and obesity, according to researchers.