Overweight Toddlers - Mothers Commonly Underestimate Their WeightEditor's Choice
Main Category: Pediatrics / Children's Health
Also Included In: Obesity / Weight Loss / Fitness
Article Date: 08 May 2012 - 11:00 PST
Overweight Toddlers - Mothers Commonly Underestimate Their Weight
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Mothers whose toddlers are overweight frequently see them as having no weight problem and are happy with their body size, suggesting that overweight has become normal for several adults, researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine reported in Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. They also found that moms of underweight toddlers had accurate perceptions of their body size, but were dissatisfied.
Erin R. Hager, PhD, said:
"These findings are very concerning. Both parental perceptions of a child's body size and how satisfied a parent is with their child's size are likely to influence how parents feed their children. Parents who desire for their child to be larger, even if the child is a healthy weight (or overweight) may overfeed their child, increasing the toddler's risk for obesity later in life.
Parents of overweight children who perceive their children as being a healthy size may be unlikely to follow guidelines to prevent overweight. The next step in our research is to determine how to help parents adopt behaviors that promote healthy growth."
The authors found that 94% of mothers whose toddlers were overweight thought their child weighed less than they really did. 82% of them were happy with their child's size - in fact, some of them thought their toddler could do with some added pounds.
How did mothers perceive their healthy weight toddlers?
- 63% of mothers whose toddlers were of healthy weight thought they weighed less than they did
- 72% of mothers whose toddlers were of healthy weight were satisfied with their child's body size
- 21% of mothers whose toddlers were of healthy weight thought their child was too thin and should put on some weight
"The clinical implications of this research suggest that pediatric providers promote guidelines for healthy growth with all families. The results suggest that pediatric providers should plot and discuss toddler weight status with families of all toddlers, emphasizing parents' roles in building healthy dietary and lifestyle habits for the family.
The toddler silhouette scale is a helpful tool that could be used in a clinical setting to gage parents' accuracy and satisfaction with their child's body size, thus guiding counseling strategies."
Food insecurity and maternal depression linked to higher children's health risksAnother study, carried out by researchers form the University of Maryland, and published in Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, revealed that an increase in family stresses, such as maternal depression and food insecurity, raise the risk of children's health problems. Team leader, Maureen Black, PdD, explained that taking part in WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants - a public health program) does reduce the negative health consequences experienced by stressed families, but does not eliminate them.
Dr. Black said:
"The building blocks that support children throughout life are formed during their early years. Disparities associated with household food insecurity and caregiver depressive symptoms disrupt these building blocks and can compromise children's health, resulting in lifelong negative consequences to their health and well-being.
Evidence presented here illustrates that family stress is associated with child health risks and that WIC attenuates both family stress and the child health risks associated with household family stress.
To reduce disparities and promote children's health, WIC is an excellent investment. The next steps are to examine why some WIC-eligible families do not participate in the program and to examine innovative strategies of implementing nutritional counseling."
Large segments of the USA's population undergo economic hardship - poverty undermines children's well-being and physical health, which in turn raises the risk of subsequent poor adult health, limited human capital and social disparities.
Families with limited financial resources have to make hard choices regarding their basic needs, such as housing, energy, health care, and food - this can result in emotional distress and frustration.
When emotional stress coincides with other stressors, caregiving practices may be negatively affected, which can impact on the well-being of children. Often just emotional stress on its own can have the same impact.
The current economic downturn has increased the prevalence of food insecurity, and also threatened the well-being of young children, resulting in a higher rate of malnutrition, childhood hospitalizations, poor overall health, and delayed development.
WIC provides nutrition and food counseling for nearly 9,000,000 women, infants and children across the USA.
The researchers looked at how WIC participation related to family stress and the health of children in 26,950 families which were eligible for WIC - the children, aged from 3 to 7 years, attended 7 urban medical centers across the nation.
They found that eligible mothers who did not receive WIC had higher rates of food insecurity and maternal depression, compared to their counterparts who did receive WIC. They also found that when maternal depression and food insecurity was present, children in WIC-receiving households fared better than other kids from eligible families whose households did not receive WIC.
Written by Christian Nordvist
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today
Erin R. Hager, PhD; Margo Candelaria, PhD; Laura W. Latta, MHS; Kristen M. Hurley, PhD; Yan Wang, MD, DrPH; Laura E. Caulfield, PhD; Maureen M. Black, PhD
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012;166(5):417-422. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.1900
"WIC Participation and Attenuation of Stress-Related Child Health Risks of Household Food Insecurity and Caregiver Depressive Symptoms"
Maureen M. Black, PhD; Anna M. Quigg, PhD; John Cook, PhD; Patrick H. Casey, MD; Diana Becker Cutts, MD; Mariana Chilton, PhD, MPH; Alan Meyers, MD, MPH; Stephanie Ettinger de Cuba, MPH; Timothy Heeren, PhD; Sharon Coleman, MS, MPH; Ruth Rose-Jacobs, ScD; Deborah A. Frank, MD
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012;166(5):444-451. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2012.1
23 May. 2013. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/245140.php>
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