A study has suggested that parents in the UK are struggling to spot signs of obesity in their children.
A study involving 2,976 UK families revealed that just four parents thought their child was overweight. The actual number, according to medical assessment, was 369. Writing in the British Journal of General Practice, researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the UCL Institute of Child Health, said that they believed that obesity had become the ‘norm’ in society and the study revealed the extent of the obesity problem we are facing in the UK.
According to the National Child Measurement Programme, 1 in 5 children in Year 6 are obese and 14 percent are overweight.
The research team handed out questionnaires to nearly 3,000 families and asked them to rate their child as underweight, healthy weight, overweight or obese. The findings were alarming, as 31 percent of parents rated their child’s weight as too low.
Professor Russell Viner from the Institute of Child Health said that it is a real problem that parents are unable to identify the warning signs of obesity, as this means that they are not taking steps to encourage their child to lose weight to reach a healthy BMI. Prof. Viner called for measures to be introduced to educate parents and to enable medical professionals to approach the subject of child obesity without any worry about offending parents or facing a negative reaction.
Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, said that children should be encouraged to make healthy lifestyle choices from a very early age and education should be provided by parents and teachers as well as society as a whole.