Mothers struggle to realise if their toddler is overweight
Mothers of overweight toddlers were 88 per cent less likely to perceive their child's actual size
20:16 GMT, 7 May 2012
Mother doesn’t always know best when it comes to judging her own child’s size, according to researchers.
A study of mothers and their toddlers suggests they often have inaccurate perceptions of their youngster's body size – especially if they are overweight.
The researchers said this could lead to inappropriate feeding habits, such as encouraging a healthy-weight child to eat more.
Overweight or baby fat Researchers say mothers of obese babies are more likely to be blind to their actual size
Doctor Erin Hager and colleagues at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the United States conducted a study that included 281 mother-toddler pairs.
The average age of the toddlers was 20.2 months and 54.1 per cent of them were boys. The mothers ranged in age from 18 to 46 and most (71.9 per cent) of them were overweight or obese.
According to the results, nearly 70 per cent of the mother were inaccurate in assessing their toddler’s body size when selecting a silhouette that correctly reflected their child’s true body size.
Dr Hager said: 'Mothers of overweight toddlers were more than 88 per cent less likely to accurately perceive their child’s body size.'
'This may be because high-weight status is often regarded as a sign of successful parenting, especially during the early years when parents are responsible for their child’s health, nutrition and activity opportunities.'
Specially trained doctors can interpret weight-for-length charts and flag up any growth concerns
She added: 'In conclusion, the majority of mothers were satisfied with their toddler’s body size, yet were inaccurate in their perception of their child’s actual body size.
'Future studies should examine how parental satisfaction and/or accuracy are related to parenting behaviours including feeding behaviours and encouragement of physical activity.'
HOW TO WATCH YOUR TODDLER'S WEIGHT
Child body weight expert Dr Taveras from the Children's Hospital Boston, says…
Breastfeed infants as long as possible
attention to infants hunger and satiety cues
Don't introduce solid foods before four months
get 12 hours or more sleep in a 24-hour period
Give babies opportunity to move rather than confining them to strollers and
Avoid exposure to food marketing and limit time in
front of the TV
Commenting on the findings published in the journal Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Doctor Eliana Perrin, of the University of North Carolina, said: 'This research is instructive because an emerging body of literature suggests that parents with accurate perceptions of weight have greater readiness to make weight-related behavioural changes and are more effective making them.'
Overweight children are much more likely to become overweight
adults, putting them at increased risk of a range of health problems including high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
In the UK, a child's weight is measured by measuring their Body Mass Index, which is then compared to their peers. A child may be considered overweight if they are heavier than 85 per cent of children the same age and obese is they are heavier than 95 per cent of their peers.
Babies who were overweight anytime during the first two years of life are more likely to be obese at age five or age 10.