MORE than 50pc of parents of overweight primary school children believe they are "about right for their height", despite expanding waistlines.
And parents of teens are even more deluded, with three-quarters of those whose children are overweight judging them to be "fine".
This picture of a nation in denial has emerged in a report from Safefood, which investigated people's perceptions of bodyweight.
The findings suggest that being overweight is increasingly the norm, with people having a false sense of security about their child's or their own size.
It showed adults are also in denial, or unaware of their own need to lose weight, wrongly believing they have little to worry about. One in three adults also has a skewed outlook and does not realise they themselves have a problem, even though two out of every three are overweight or obese.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, director of human health and nutrition at Safefood, said: "Not recognising our own weight status, or indeed our children's weight status, represents a major barrier to making any future changes to our lifestyle.
"Being overweight is now the norm and as a society we must recognise our bodyweight before we can realistically begin to make positive changes, especially for our children," Dr Foley-Nolan said.
She said the report showed that if any behaviour change is made to tackle a person's weight and improve habits, it is essential that they recognise they have a problem in the first place.
"However, with adults or carers not recognising that they or someone they care for is an unhealthy weight, they are unlikely to seek health information and help from health professionals."
She said assessing a child's weight should be as important as checking their eyesight or monitoring their developmental progress.
The report revealed that children are unlikely to perceive themselves as overweight.
"The majority of obese teens wished to lose weight. These results show that normal weight and overweight teens are more likely to have misconceptions than obese teens who appear to be aware of their weight status," it said.