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Parents of Overweight Preschoolers Are Not Aware

New Research Finds Parents of Overweight Preschoolers Are Not Aware or Concerned About Their Child's Weight

New research shows that parents of overweight and obese preschoolers are often not concerned or even aware that their child is overweight. The research finding by Dr Michele Campbell and team from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Victoria was submitted at the RACP Annual Scientific Meeting held in Wellington today.

Parents of 341 four year olds completed a questionnaire, which asked them about their concern for their child’s current weight, whether they felt their child was currently over- or underweight and how their child’s weight compared to their peers.

All children were measured to determine their weight status according to international standards.

The rate of overweight/obesity in the children tested was 19 per cent, however only 5 per cent of parents were concerned that their child was currently overweight.

“Despite the increased media attention and publicity about obesity in children, many parents still thought their overweight/obese child had a normal weight for their age, whilst others with children in the normal weight range felt they were underweight,” said Dr Campbell.

“This may reflect just how common being overweight has become. However, there are also more complex reasons why parents may not perceive their child as overweight that need to be addressed,” she said.

“We also found that parents with overweight sons were much less likely to be concerned about their child’s weight than parents with overweight daughters. This suggests that social values about the acceptability of overweight by gender are already apparent at a very early age,” Dr Campbell said.

“The number of overweight and obese preschoolers is increasing. These children are more likely to be overweight as adults and risk facing a wide range of health problems, including heart disease and diabetes. Increasing parent awareness about preschooler overweight and addressing their concerns should be part of a broad-based approach to encourage healthy and active lifestyles for all children,” she said. The RACP is responsible for training, educating and representing over 9,000 physicians in Australia and New Zealand. The RACP represents 23 medical sub-specialities including paediatrics, public health and occupational medicine. Physicians are often called specialists and are doctors who have completed an extra six years or more of training after their initial medical training and choose to specialise in a particular area of medicine.

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