A new study has shown that there is a connection between the way parents perceive their children and the kids’ weight when they enter their teenage years. Regardless of the weight of their children, if the parents think they are overweight, this might involuntarily determine them to gain more pounds.
These are the results of a study conducted by a team of scientists at the University of Liverpool and the Florida State University, who wanted to find whether there is a link between the perception of parents and their children’s weight.
To do so, they recruited over three thousand children from Australia with ages from four to five. They were all tracked as the years passed until they turned twelve or thirteen years old. During this time, their body mass index was thoroughly observed in order to determine if they are truly overweight or not. Their parents’ opinions were also surveyed.
In more details, the weight of the kids was measured every two years during this period and then compared to the perception of their parents. By making this comparison, the scientists were able to determine that the inability of the parents to make realistic assumptions could easily turn against the children and thus make them gain more weight when they grow up.
From the three thousand children that were part of the study, nine were underweight, 563 were considered normal, and 703 were overweight. However, only 131 were perceived by their parents correctly as overweight.
According to Angelina Sutin, co-author of the study from the College of Medicine of the Florida State University,
“One perception may be that when parents perceive their children as overweight, they may be less likely to monitor their children’s food intake and physical activity. In adulthood, individuals who feel stigmatized because of their weight tend to overeat and avoid physical activity. Similar mechanisms may also operate in childhood. And even if parents try to limit their children’s food intake, children may rebel and subsequently eat more.”
While the research demonstrates the correlation between the perception of the parents and the weight gain of their children, it does not answer the question why parents cannot estimate the state of their kids correctly.
The results of the study were released in the Pediatrics journal.
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