According to a new study, many parents of obese children do not view their children as unhealthy, even when the child’s weight is at dangerous levels.
A team of researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine looked at surveys filled out by around 200 parents. All of the parents had their kids enrolled in an obesity clinic at the Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island in 2008 and 2009. The children’s ages ranged from 5-years-old to 20-years-old.
Despite knowing that their children needed to lose weight, many of the parents did not see their obese children’s weight as a health concern. Around 28 percent of the parents said that they did not view their children’s weight as a health concern, while a whopping 31 percent thought their kids’ health was very good.
The survey results were disturbing to the researchers, as 94 percent of the kids were labeled as clinically obese. This means that the kids could develop a number of health problems, including hypertension and diabetes.
“These parents may have tried making dietary changes in the past and were not effective, or felt overwhelmed by the situation and no longer felt capable of making changes,” the authors wrote in the study. “Previous studies have shown that a parent’s ability to lose weight and make nutritional changes is highly correlated with the child’s ability to make similar changes.”
“Additional attention should be paid to whether parents view their own weight or their child’s weight as a health problem, because these factors can detract a parent’s readiness to make behavioral changes in either domain,” the authors concluded.
Even though this particular study is new, the information presented is actually old news, some doctors are saying.
“There’s been other studies that have shown parents don’t realize the problem. I have to emphasize that if you don’t know there’s a problem, you can’t do anything about it,” explained Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD.
Childhood obesity has quickly become one of America’s biggest concerns According to a 2012 study, around one-third of the country’s children are overweight or obese, a number that needs to go down in order for the population to remain healthy.
The study was published online in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.