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Parents of Overweight Kids

Are Overweight Kids' Parents in Denial?

Here's a post from our partners at BabyCenter! Every week, we bring you the best parenting and lifestyle stories from the experts at BabyCenter, including this about the parents of overweight children.


These days it seems society is trying to shift the focus of our attention from outer appearance to inner beauty. With campaigns like Dove Beauty and the ‘new way to look at selfies' floating around, are we hurting ourselves in the long run? I personally love these campaigns. I love individuality, but in today’s world it feels like we are being pulled in two directions. We are told to love our bodies…even if they are too fat for our own good. So which is it? Are we all obese or are these studies overreacting? Every parent wants to make their child feel beautiful and special- but has our need to encourage and embrace our kids caused us to ignore a potential health hazard?

Related: How ward off obnoxious pregnancy advice

A recent article posted by USA Today mentions a study that may suggest just that. Research done around the world suggests a staggering number of parents with overweight children to be in denial. 51 percent, in fact. Alyssa Lundahl, a graduate student in the clinical psychology program at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and lead author of this study found children who were overweight in kindergarten were four times more likely to be obese by the eighth grade compared to normal weight individuals. She states, “Parents who underestimate their kids’ weight may not take action to encourage healthy behaviors that would improve their child’s weight and reduce their risk of future health conditions.”

Lundahl, along wither her colleagues, reviewed numerous studies involving over 16,000 children from the ages of two to eighteen and this is what they found:

  1. Over half of parents with overweight or obese children viewed their children as normal.
  2. Of parents with normal weight children, 14 percent saw their kids as underweight.
  3. Parents of children ages two to five were less likely to see them as overweight. “As kids get older, parents realize it’s not just baby fat any more, and the kids are not going to grow out of it,” Lundahl says.
  4. Parents of boys were also less likely to view their children as overweight. Lundahl states, “There is a belief that boys are supposed to be big, strong and muscular, so normal-weight sons are sometimes perceived as too small.”

This article also gives a few healthy tips from Melinda Sothern, co-author of Trim Kids. Sothern urges parents to give kids water instead of sugary drinks. She also recommends only eating in a designated dining area, limiting TV time, providing healthy snacks like melon and grapes, and providing opportunity for physical activity.

More great reads from BabyCenter:
Crazy names inspired by the Super Bowl
Is there really any controversy in this Cheerios ad?
5 printables to help organize your life
How to stop yelling at your kids

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