Obesity in Children: The New Normal?

Some of my favorite researchers have debunked the ‘seven myths about parental perception of children’s weight‘. One myth – parental misperception represents personal failure – was discredited, and Perez & Ball discussed the normalization of excess weight in children.

In a recent study published in the International Journal of Obesity, Twarog et al., 2016 examined parents’ weight misperceptions using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and if they differed by children’s sex, age, or ethnicity. Similar to previous publications, parents of children (n=1445) were more likely to misperceive weight status if the child was male (vs. female), Hispanic (vs. Caucasian), and in adolescence (11 – 15 years vs. 6 – 10 years old).

Although this area of research isn’t new, this study only examined children ≥95th percentile of body mass index (BMI); comparably, most studies on parental weight misperceptions have included children ≥85th percentile, and it is well-known that parents of children who are slightly overweight are less likely to recognize their weight status. As such, this study provides a unique insight on misperception of children’s obesity only.

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