Many parents fail to recognize their child's burgeoning weight, despite constant warnings about childhood obesity, an Australian study has reported.
The disturbing results of the national MBF Healthwatch survey showed that only 7.9 percent of kids were considered to be overweight by their parents.
However, this is a gross underestimation according to the recent Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report, which showed almost a quarter of all children (aged two to 12) are overweight or obese.
"Parents need to be extremely conscious that their failure to recognise these weight problems can be potentially damaging to their children in the long-term," Bupa Australia* Chief Medical Officer Dr Christine Bennett said.
"Even taking into account recent suggestions that measures of overweight might be including some children on the border, many parents don't pick up on the risk.
"And once children become overweight, it's often extremely difficult for them to shed these excess kilos, particularly if their diet is incorrect and they are living a sedentary lifestyle.
"Therefore, it's incumbent upon us as parents to help ensure our children embrace healthier lifestyles," she added.
Bennett also found that parents' inability to recognise weight issues was markedly more pronounced with their sons.
This was typified by the fact that considerably more parents believe their daughters are overweight (10.3 percent), compared to their male siblings (5.5 percent).
However, the AIHW data showed there was little difference in the prevalence of overweight or obesity between boys and girls.
Bennett said that she was particularly concerned regarding parents' perceptions of infants (aged up to two years old), with not one parent recognising that their son was overweight, compared to 8 percent for daughters.
"It is genuinely concerning that parents are more conscious of their daughters' weight than their sons, and this has to change," Bennett said.
"Unfortunately, this may mean an overwhelming number of boys experiencing weight problems will not receive timely assistance to rectify the problem as a direct result of their parents' failure to recognise and address the problem at a young age," she added.