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Parents don't recognise kids' obesity
[Posted: Fri 20/01/2012 by Niall Hunter, Editor www.irishhealth.com]
Parents are slow to recognise that their children might be overweight tor obese, according to a new Irish study.
A semi-rural GP practice collected data from 101 parents and their children attending the practice.
Calculation of the children's body mass index (BMI) for age indicated that 14.9% of the children were overweight or obese.
In addition, 51.6% of the parents were also overweight or obese. Nearly 12% of the children surveyed were actually underweight.
The researchers found that parents were poor at recognising their children's increased weight. Nine of the overweight children were perceived as being of 'normal' weight by their parents, and none of the obese children had their correct weight category identified by parents.
The GPs who carried out the research reported that more than half of the children watched 1-2 hours of TV on an average school day, with 26.7% watching TV for 2-3 hours or more.
Almost one in four parents said each family member did not usually eat the same food at dinner, with many parents cooking separate meals for different family members more than once a week or daily.
Almost one-in-two of the families said they ate pre-prepared foods once a week.
The study found that parents had lower rates of perception of overweight in their sons than in their daughters.
The GPs in the practice took action on the children's weight problems. This included provision of verbal and written information on diet and lifestyle and an invitation where necessary for a further review.
The GPs found that surprisingly, most parents responded positively to these interventions.
The authors say it is paramount for GPs to rise the issue of child obesity with parents or it is likely to be overlooked.
They propose that GPs adopt a policy to include routine documentation of BMI for age in all children on an annual basis.
The study is published in the Irish Medical Journal.
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