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Parents ignoring that our kids are getting fatter

Australian parents seem to be ignoring the expanding waistlines of their offspring, as new research in the Medical Journal of Australia shows...


children exerciseThe last ten years has seen a hundred per cent increase in obesity levels among pre-schoolers, and many parents appear not to be recognising the signs which can be indicative of health problems later in life. In a study of parental attitudes to childhood obesity, 324 mothers of four year olds were interviewed.

Dr Michele Campbell, who led a research team at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne, reported that only a quarter of mothers of overweight or obese children (as defined by Body Mass Index) actually rated them as such, and 70 per cent of these mothers thought that their children weighed about the same as their classmates.

Only 17 per cent of all mothers interviewed were concerned about their children facing future overweight or obesity problems. Dr Campbell said that the findings, which mirror those reported in other westernised nations, indicate that the ramifications of overweight and obesity are not being absorbed by Australian parents, who appear not to notice their child’s expanding girth as being out of the ordinary due to the prevalence of overweight kids in society.

Parents who do recognise the seriousness of the issue have to address it carefully, encouraging healthy eating whilst avoiding making their children overly weight and image conscious. Children need to follow a good eating, and exercising example set by parents in the home; it’s no good for parents who lead an unhealthy or sedentary lifestyle to tell their kids to do as they say and not as they do. Some children will grow out of their ‘puppy fat’, but without adopting a more active lifestyle and a healthier eating regime, they could be setting themselves up for a future blighted by health problems.

Source: Medical Journal of Australia, 20 March 2006. Also see our article on children and exercise.


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