Saturday 17 February 2018

Irish mothers struggle to recognise obesity in their children

Many children are worryingly overweight
Many children are worryingly overweight

Sasha Brady

A University of Limerick study has found that only one in six mothers of obese children recognise their child as being overweight.

The medical researchers found that while three quarters of overweight mothers and 60 per cent of obese mothers were aware of their own weight issues, they were much less likely to recognise them in their children.

The findings involving 7,655 mothers and children from the Growing Up In Ireland project were published today in the journal Archives of Disease In Childhood.

Read more: Government is failing children on obesity, says athletics coach

Dr Kieran Dowd said: “If mothers are unable to identify their child as overweight or obese, it is unlikely they will react or intervene. This may result in continued weight gain throughout the remainder of childhood and adolescence into adulthood.”

The study encouraged parents to talk to their children about the importance of a healthy lifestyle, and approach it together as a family.

Read more: Mum's diet before birth will decide if baby is a fat adult

“Discussions between health professionals and parents about the child’s weight status should be encouraged, together with practical strategies for helping the family maintain a healthy weight," said Professor Clodagh O'Gorman.

A study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that Ireland now has the third highest proportion of 11-year-olds in Europe who are overweight.

Read more: Jeremy Hunt urges BBC 'to play its part' in anti-obesity drive

The health body has warned that being overweight as a child is now so common that "it risks becoming the norm" in Europe.

Speaking on RTE Radio 1, Dr Grace O’Malley from Temple Street said: “It’s pretty stark. In general, all of our children are getting bigger and it’s harder to recognise because the norm is getting bigger as well.”

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