They underestimate their weight…With obesity and weight issues affecting nearly 2/3 of adults and 1/3 of children in the U.S., it seems to be changing our perception of what’s considered heavy.
Those who are carrying unhealthy extra pounds are more likely to see their weight as normal, and are therefore unlikely to feel the need to drop some of those pounds.
The latest indication for this was presented recently at an American Heart Association conference. Columbia University researchers reported the preliminary results of a study that found that overweight mothers and children tend to underestimate their own – and each other’s – weight.
“A lot of their misperception has to do with the fact that overweight and obesity is becoming the norm,” says the lead author of the study, Nicole E. Dumas, M.D., an internal medicine resident at Columbia University Medical Center, in New York.
The study included 222 mostly Latino mothers and children who were recruited at a children’s health clinic in an urban setting. The research team interviewed the participants about their medical history and social background and also measured their height, weight and BMI (body mass index).
Almost 2/3 of the mothers were overweight or obese. Nearly 40% of the children, who ranged in age from 7 to 13, were also overweight or obese. The vast majority of the overweight people weighed more than they thought they did — and the heavier they were, the more likely they were to underestimate their weight.
82% of the obese women underestimated their weight, compared with 43% of overweight and 13% of normal-weight women. Likewise, 86% of overweight or obese children failed to correctly estimate their weight, compared with just 15% of normal-weight children.
“There was a trend that showed that as women became more and more overweight, and then obese, the larger the misperception of true body weight was,” says Dumas. “Unfortunately, we found this was the case with the children as well.”
The participants’ misperceptions were not limited to how they viewed themselves. Almost ½ of the mothers who had an overweight child believed their child’s weight to be normal. And even though more than 80% of the women were overweight, only 41% of the children thought their moms needed to lose weight. So you see it was very easy for them to underestimate their weight.
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