A new study found that many parents in the United Kingdom are not aware of their children weight problem, except for the cases of extreme obesity.
The results of the research has prompted instructions that more needs to be done to aid parents comprehend official measures of overweight and obesity, but also the health risks associated with childhood obesity, and how to promote healthier diets.
A team of researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the UCL Institute of Child Health published the results in the British Journal of General Practice.
The specialists also discovered that parents are more likely to underestimate their child’s weight if the children is male, but also if they have deprived backgrounds or are black or south Asian.
The researchers said that this information should help policymakers to raise awareness better and to develop programs to address the issue of childhood obesity.
Over the past three decades, childhood obesity has been steadily increasing in the UK as in the US. In the United States, child obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Obese and overweight children are linked to higher risk of premature death and disease in adulthood. This fact has lead to public health initiatives which target parents to change their children’s lifestyles and diet.
However, these interventions are not likely to work unless parents comprehend the official scales for measuring childhood obesity.
“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 Dr. Sanjay Kinra, senior author of the new study and reader in clinical epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
The British team evaluated data from questionnaires that were filled in by the parents of almost 3,000 children in five different regions of the UK, all of them taking part in the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP).
The National Child Measurement Programme has found that about one in five children age 4-5 years old is obese. The proportion rises to approximately one in three in the 10-11 age group.
The researchers also learned that only four parents considered their child as being very overweight or obese, despite 369 of the children were in this category.
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