Science and Tech


Many Parents Of Obese Children Don't Think It's Unhealthy

According to a new study, many parents of obese children don't think their offspring's weight is a health issue.
Posted at 1:24 PM, Jul 24, 2014

According to a new study, many parents of obese children don't see their offspring as unhealthy, even if their weight is at a dangerous level. (Via Getty Images)

New research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also found those parents often resist lifestyle changes that encourage their children to develop healthy eating and exercise habits early on in their lives.

A team of researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine analyzed data from surveys filled out by roughly 200 parents. Those parents had children enrolled in the obesity clinic at Hasbro Children's Hospital in Rhode Island.

CBS notes the children's ages ranged from 5 to 20, and 94 percent could be classified as clinically obese, which is characterized by a body mass index higher than 30.

The researchers found 28 percent of the parents didn't see their child's weight as a health concern, and 31 percent thought their child's health was either excellent or very good. (Via Getty Images)

The study's lead author said in a news release from UC San Diego"Parents have a hard time changing their child's dietary and physical activity behaviors."

Overall, the study's authors say the parents were more willing to implement changes in their child's diet rather than encourage them to exercise more. (Via Getty Images)

And parents who were obese themselves were even more unlikely to take steps to change their child's diet or exercise habits. (Via Getty Images)

Science Direct quotes the study's authors as saying, "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 director of the weight management program at Miami Children's Hospital told HealthDay parents often tell him their obese children will outgrow their weight problems. "There is a lot of fact to this study that I experience every day [with parents]."

But some doctors say the study's conclusion is old news.

​​​ELIZABETH WARD, MS, RD: "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." (Via WFXT)

And it's a growing problem, at that. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity in the U.S. has more than doubled in the past 30 years. In 2012, more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.