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Are You an Accurate Judge of Your Child's Weight? (Answer: Maybe Not)

Boy on scale
Here's one issue when it comes to battling childhood obesity: Parents, it turns out, can be pretty poor judges of whether their kids have a weight problem or not.

New research, led by the NYU Langone Medical Center and published last week in the journal Childhood Obesity, found that even as childhood obesity rates rise, parents tend to think their kids are at a healthy weight—and that perception hasn't changed much over the years.

The findings were based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which was gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and based on physical examinations and interviews. The researchers studied two different groups of more than 3,000 children each, from 1988 to 1994, and 2007 to 2012.

Parents were asked whether their children (who were all between the ages of 2 and 5) were overweight, underweight, or about the right weight. Nearly all parents in both groups reported that their child was "just the right weight"—especially the parents of overweight boys.

In the first group, 97 percent of parents considered their overweight sons to be "about the right weight," and the results of the more recent group yielded basically the same results (95 percent).

As for the parents of overweight girls, 88 percent of parents in the earlier study group reported that their daughters were at a good weight, followed by 93 percent in the second group.

Most important to note is that children who participated in the second, more recent group were substantially more overweight than the earlier group; however, parents' views of their children did not reflect this difference.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

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