Most parents can't tell when their own kids are obese

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The battle against childhood obesity may have taken center stage on a national level in recent years (hat tip, Michelle Obama), but the front line is still in the home.


And the first step to healthier kids is knowing when a kid is overweight. Sadly, most parents aren't very good at that, and they're getting worse.

Nearly two-thirds of parents do not recognize when their children are obese, according to new research published in the journal Childhood Obesity. And relative to similar surveys done 20 years ago, parents are worse at gauging whether their child has a weight problem.

In what may be the only upside to the tougher beauty standards society imposes on females, parents of little girls are more likely to notice when they've have gained too much weight, which could theoretically help the girls get healthier faster (a lifetime of body hangups not withstanding).

But the difference is slight. "Even among parents of clinically obese children, more than 75 percent thought their sons were the right weight, and almost 70 percent of the parents of obese daughters thought the same," The New York Times notes.

This is a complex topic: No one wants little kids to feel bad about their bodies, but growing up obese comes with serious long-term health effects.

It should also be noted that the researchers used BMI to measure obesity despite wide criticism of the scale. Time and again, scientists have pointed out that the Body Mass Index is reductive, redundant, and just plain wrong. Despite this, it is consistently used in research like this because it has been what researchers have measured, allowing easy comparisons through time.


Short-term bandaid remedy suggestion: Teach parents to more accurately identify obesity, but also require every parent and child to watch Blind Melon’s “No Rain” music video to promote body positivity.