Parents underestimate children's weight problems

Parents underestimate children's weight problems

Weight problems in children: parents react too late

The number of overweight children has increased continuously in recent years. But many parents apparently lack awareness of their children's weight problems. This is the result of a joint investigation by the Integrated Research and Treatment Center (IFB) Obesity Diseases, the Pediatrician Network CrescNet and Pediatric Medicine at the University Hospital Leipzig.

As part of the cooperation project, the researchers led by Dr. Susann Blüher from the University of Leipzig examined the attitudes of parents towards obesity prevention programs and found that many parents only become aware of their pupils' weight problems when they already suffer from obesity. The parents often recognize the problem far too late, so that preventive measures cannot help here, the scientists reported in early April in the specialist magazine "PLoS One".

My child is not too fat! According to the researchers at the University of Leipzig, the general rule is: the sooner you tackle emerging weight problems, the higher the chances of success. It is also much easier to counteract the build-up of excess weight than to get rid of the extra pounds in the case of existing weight problems, the experts explained. However, many parents do not seem to be aware of these aspects or they are willfully ignored, according to the motto: "My child is not too fat!" When evaluating the motives that prompt parents to send their child to a prevention course against overweight or the scientists around Dr. Susann Blüher states that many parents react too late. Prevention programs are primarily aimed at families whose children are overweight but not yet obese. A combination of nutritional and exercise therapy is intended to prevent further weight gain and the associated impending development of obesity, explained Blüher and colleagues.

Childhood obesity is often not recognized as a problem As part of the cooperation project between the Polyclinic for Children and Adolescents, the Integrated Research and Treatment Center (IFB) Obesity Diseases and the Pediatrician Network CrescNet at the University Hospital Leipzig, the researchers surveyed a total of 433 families with 241 overweight children between the ages of four and seventeen years of age who participated in an overweight prevention program and 192 children who were not included in a corresponding prevention program. It was found that the parents whose children were “only” overweight chose to participate in the prevention program significantly more often than parents whose children were already obese, according to the information from the Integrated Research and Treatment Center (IFB) Obesity Diseases. Obviously, childhood overweight is often not recognized as a problem.

Participation in prevention programs often too late The survey has clearly shown that prevention programs against obesity are often perceived far too late, the scientists report. The director of studies Dr. Susann Blüher emphasized that “families, their children just are overweight, apparently have less awareness of the problem than parents of already obese children. ”The parents tend to only become active when their offspring is already obese. Quite often sentences like "My child is not fat" or "This is just baby fat" can be heard from parents with overweight or even obese children. In addition to the lack of insight into the weight problems of adolescents, the supposedly high costs of a change in diet and the lack of time in parents' arguments also played a role in rejecting the prevention program. Many of the parents with overweight children also emphasized that their offspring are already eating healthy and therefore participation in the prevention program is unnecessary.

Raising awareness of the negative consequences of being overweight is particularly problematic, according to Dr. Susann Blüher, since the program is actually intended as an obesity prevention project, which is primarily aimed at families with overweight children in order to prevent further weight gain and thus the development of obesity. According to the latest study results, however, this will be difficult to achieve. Therefore, according to Dr. Blüher prevention programs are being developed, “which those affected really reach.” In the families, “awareness of the negative consequences of being overweight must first be created,” the head of the cooperation project continued. According to Dr. Such programs are now more important than ever, as around 80 percent of overweight children remain fat as adults. In addition, diseases such as diabetes or cardiovascular complaints are becoming more common in children and adolescents due to being overweight, the expert explained. (fp)

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Video: Obese Children (March 2021).