Moms Don’t See Overweight Children

Only one in five mothers of overweight children recognize the problem, according to a study from Children’s Hospital Medical Center of Cincinnati, Ohio. The lower the mother’s educational level, the greater the proportion of obese offspring, reports the study senior author, Rob K. Siner, M.D., M.P.H.

The study incorporated 628 mothers of two- to five-year-olds in Alabama, representing the full economic spectrum. Neither race, income, nor mother’s age affected children’s obesity rates, said Dr (other than income as a result of educational level).

Although the study report issued by Children’s Hospital mentions the need to “increase parental awareness about preventing obesity” and to “help parents … encourage healthy, lifelong diet and exercise habits in children,” it doesn’t discuss possible causes of unrecognized obesity. Previous pediatric and psychological studies, however, have:

* Numerous studies have shown that chubby mothers raise chubby children.
* In some societal sectors it is still felt that “a fat and healthy baby” is desirable and that “fat children are happy children.” These ideas are more likely to prevail among less-educated mothers who have limited access to current news and new findings, and who are therefore likely to accept the ideas of prior generations.
* Finally, health professionals shouldn’t overlook the psychological power of a mother’s love. Moms just don’t see their children as homely, ungifted, ill-behaved, or overweight.