(HealthDay News) — Parents frequently underestimate their children’s weight status, especially overweight/obese status, according to research published online February 2 in Pediatrics.

Alyssa Lundahl, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to determine the proportion of parents worldwide who underestimate their children’s weight, and moderators of this misperception. Data from 69 articles, representing 78 samples and 15,791 individuals, were included in a meta-analysis of overweight/obese samples. Data from 52 articles, representing 59 samples and 64,895 individuals, were included in the normal-weight meta-analysis.

The researchers found that 50.7% of parents underestimated their overweight/obese child’s weight. Children’s age and body mass index were significant moderators of this effect. For normal-weight children, 14.3% of parents underestimated their weight status. Child gender, parent weight, and method in which perception was assessed (visual versus non-visual) were significant moderators of this effect.

“Half of parents underestimated their children’s overweight/obese status and a significant minority underestimated children’s normal weight,” the authors write. “Pediatricians are well positioned to make efforts to remedy parental underestimates and promote adoption of healthy habits.”

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