Mothers With Overweight Toddlers Don't Recognize The Extra Pounds

By: CBS (Posted by Kion Hudson)
By: CBS (Posted by Kion Hudson)

(CBS)-- Not only do most mothers of overweight children not recognize that their child is a bit chubby, they think they're at the perfect weight.

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A new study, published in the May 2012 issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, revealed that 7 out of 10 mothers were incorrect in judging their toddler's size, with moms of overweight kids judging their child's weight wrong 87 percent of the time. An overwhelming majority mothers with overweight children - 81.7 percent - thought that their kids were at the perfect weight.

This is especially worrisome because children who have excess weight gain before the age of 5 are more likely to have weight problems through their adolescence, potentially leading to obesity-related problems that can have an affect on cognition, learning and behavior.

For the study, researchers worked with 281 mother-toddler pairs. The mothers were recruited from a suburban Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) clinic and an urban pediatric clinic serving predominantly low-income families. A slight majority of the children were male, and 70.8 percent of the participants were African American.

First, the kids were weighed in their clean diapers. Then, the moms were presented with a range of photographs depicting the silhouettes of toddlers at various weights. Mothers who chose pictures that were more than two images away from their child's actual weight were considered to have a wrong answer.

While one-third of the mothers chose the right picture for their toddler's weight, 94 percent of mothers with overweight toddlers picked smaller pictures. Moms with a higher body mass index (BMI) mean were also more likely to pick a wrong size for their child than those who picked the right size.

About 71.4 percent of moms were happy with their child's size and didn't recognize any problems even if their child was overweight. However, 21 percent of mothers of healthy-weight toddlers and 4 percent of mothers of overweight toddlers also wanted their kids to gain more weight.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (part of the National Institute of Health), it is important to support your overweight child emotionally but also help them make better diet choices such as serving more fruits and vegetables and buying fewer soft drinks.

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