30/03/2015 11:15 BST | Updated 30/05/2015 10:12 BST

Parents Don't Recognise Their Obese Children Have A Weight Problem


Parents of overweight children are blind to the fact that their kids are unhealthily fat, according to new research.

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the UCL Institute of Child Health questioned almost 3,000 parents about the weight of their child in a recent study.

Overall, 31 per cent of parents underestimated where their child fell on the spectrum between underweight and clinically obese.

Less than one per cent of parents overestimated their child's weight status, the study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, found.

Parents of very overweight children - those above the 95 centile - were extremely unlikely to recognise the problem, with just one in 100 parents classifying them correctly.

Only parents of those with the very highest body mass indexes - in the top 0.3 per cent of weights - accurately classes their children's weights.

According to official guidelines, children are classified as overweight at the 85th centile and very overweight (or obese) at the 95th centile.

More than a third of kids in England are now classed as overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school.

Researchers said parents may have been blinded to their children's unhealthy weight because the norm has risen so much.

They raised concerns that parents who could not identify the problem would be less likely to be able to help their children eat more healthily.

The study questioned the parents of 2,976 children in London, Birmingham, Somerset and Essex.

Senior author Dr Sanjay Kinra, reader in clinical epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: "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."

Prof Russell Viner, from the Institute of Child Health, told the BBC News website: "Modern parents don't recognise children as obese.

"If parents don't recognise a child is obese then they're very unlikely to do anything to help their child move to a more healthy weight.

"Then it's a potential major public health crisis being stored up."