A mother's love knows no boundaries, but what about when it comes to
tackling your child's weight issues? According to a new study, most mothers of
overweight children tend to think they're not as heavy as they actually
For the study, researchers interviewed 281 mothers recruited from two clinics in the Baltimore, an area serving mostly low-income mothers. Kids from low-income families are usually at higher risk of ending up overweight or obese.
Participants were shown cartoon silhouettes of seven toddlers in a row, ranging from underweight to obese. They were then asked to select the picture that most closely resembled their own kid, and also to pick the picture that they most wanted their child to look like. Researchers used the actual height and weight of these mom's children to compare them to the images the mothers had chosen.
The findings showed that nearly 70% of the moms did not accurately assess their own child's body size. Mothers of overweight toddlers consistently tended to
chose a silhouette that was smaller than their child's true body size. Mothers of underweight toddlers, on the other hand, were more likely to
correctly assess their child's body size and to wish they looked
The reason for the concern is that such skewed perception might be contributing to childhood obesity. Surprisingly, some of the mothers actually admitted they'd fatten their kids up even more if they could - 4% with overweight kids wanted them to be even heavier, while 21% of moms with normal sized kids wished their kids weighed more.
Researchers theorized that this might have to do with the longstanding belief that chubby toddlers are healthier. From Reuters:
A long time ago, it was O.K. to value a chubby baby when kids were underweight and we had potato famines and what not. It was a sign you're doing well for yourself. But that is not how it is today in the United States.