Studies: Children are more likely to become overweight when parents think they are too fat

researchers now found in an investigation that it can have serious implications when parents believe their children are overweight. Regardless of the actual weight of the children, this assumption is sufficient to really raise affected children. The researchers at the Florida State University College of Medicine published the results of their study in the journal "Pediatrics".

Scientists found that the parents scientists found that the assessment of parents that their children are overweight can lead to overweight.(Image: kwanchaichaiudom / fotolia.com)

study examines 3,500 children over a period of several years
Parenting seems to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, says the co-author Angelina Sutin of the Florida State University College of Medicine. Should parents normally not take action when their children are weighing too much? Not necessarily. Children who were overweight in the current study decreased in weight when the parents were of the opinion that their children had a normal body weight, explains Sutin. In this case, parents' misjudgment may even have a protective effect on the children. The study found a link between the perception of the parents and the weight of their children, but could not find any cause-effect relationship, the researchers say. The study was inspired by older studies that had previously found that adults who felt themselves to be overweight increased more in weight than they would in normal circumstances, adds Sutin. The new study now observed more than 3,500 children and their parents. The physicians regularly examine the children every two years, from the fourth year of life to the age of 12 or from the fifth year to the age of 13.The parents had to answer questions during the examination, how they perceived the weight of their child.97 per cent of respondents were mothers, said the researchers.

study on the body mass index on
At the age of four to five years, three quarters of children had a normal healthy weight. Twenty percent of the children under study were actually obese or even obese, but the parents of the affected people generally considered the weight as normal, the scientists explain. In the course of time, the doctors were able to establish that these overweight children continued to grow when the parents perceived them as overweight, Sutin explains. It was difficult in the study to quantify how much overweight the children had developed because the children were still growing. The importance of weight gain varies in childhood depending on the size, adds sutin. The study was based on the frequently used measurement, the so-called body mass index( BMI).The BMI offered a rough estimate of the body fat, based on size and weight. For children, the BMI also takes into account age and gender, the experts explain. The study failed to establish how much the BMI increased when parents assumed that their children were overweight. The physicians were also unable to establish a direct link to the weight of their parents. However, there was also no information on how the parents perceived their own weight, the experts added.

Why does the assessment have such an impact on the weight of children?
An explanation of why the assumption of parents can have such consequences could be a monitoring of food intake and physical activity, Sutin says. When grown-ups feel stigmatized due to their weight, they tend to eat a lot and avoid physical activity. Similar effects could also affect affected children, suspects the researchers. Moreover, some children are rebellious in their attitude. The attempt of parents to limit the intake of food in such children could cause them to actually eat more, Sutin explains.

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Children Need a Healthy Diet and Physical Activity
Perhaps the parental obsession about the weight carries on their children, which could lead to poorer mental health and cause so-called coping strategies, such as excessive eating, the experts explain. There are few studies that address how parents should best address their children to weight problems. Further research is needed to find out how parents should best communicate with their children about their weight, the doctors say. Parents should, according to the researchers, to educate their children in general about what importance a healthy diet and physical activity for general health, instead of focusing specifically on the weight, explains Sutin. It can be more effective if parents focus on the importance of healthy eating and physical activity for general health, and in their daily lives offer their children many opportunities for healthy eating and exercise, adds Sutin.(as)

The assessment of parents affects the actual weight of children
Most parents are trying to avoid their children becoming overweight. Doctors have now found out that the parents' assumption that their children are overweight is enough to really bring the children up. Thus, even the sorger of the parents against the overweight of the offspring causes their children to increase.

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