Study Says Many Parents Don’t Know Their Preschoolers Are Overweight

June 23, 2010 1 min read

Parents may not realize their preschool-aged children are overweight or even obese, if a pediatrician hasn’t told them it’s a problem, a study by the University of South Florida and Johns Hopkins University reports.

The study, published this month in the journal Clinical Pediatrics looks at 150 children aged 2 to 5, 49 of whom were overweight or obese. About 71.4 percent of parents described their overweight or obese children as being of a healthy weight. The absence of a pediatrician’s comment on the child’s weight was a strong predictor that a parent would underestimate whether the child was considered overweight or obese, according to the study abstract.

“When it comes to younger children, pediatricians tend to shy away from discussing and making recommendations about weight,” said lead author Dr. Raquel Hernandez, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of South Florida, in a press release from the university. “That’s unfortunate, because even a child as young as 2-years-old with a body mass index indicative of obesity is at high risk of becoming an obese adult. As much as we’d like to think that chubby, smiling toddler will outgrow the excess weight, it’s just not likely to happen with today’s overabundance of food and societal influences toward heavier size.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.