One out of two parents ignore their child's weight problems and feel that his or her weight is normal, even if it is not, claims a new study.
The European study of parents of 16,220 children in the ages 2-9, also found that four out of ten parents of children with overweight or obesity are even worried that their child will get too thin.
In pediatric nurse Susann Regber's dissertation at Sahlgrenska Academy, the parents were asked to estimate their child's weight status and health, and to describe their own worries about their child's becoming overweight or underweight.
The parents' perceptions were then compared with the children's actual measurements.
The studies show that around 40 per cent of parents of children with both overweight and obesity are worried that the child will become underweight.
Among parents of children who are already underweight, the proportion that is worried about it is 33 per cent.
One out of two parents of a child with overweight in Central and Northern Europe perceived their child's weight as normal and in Southern Europe, the same figure was 75 per cent.
Regber said that how parents perceive their child's weight status is of major significance to being able to promote a healthy weight development.
Many parents simply do not see the increase in growth, and are dependent on objective information from, for instance, child welfare centers and school health care to act, she said.