Malta has one of the worst child obesity rates in the world, with more than 40% of Maltese children classed as officially obese.
But now a new study claims parents often underestimate how fat their children are.
Researchers found that mums and dads often use words such as ‘chubby’, ‘solid’ and big boned’ rather than admitting their child is ‘overweight’ or simply ‘fat’.
The new study found that more than half of parents underestimated whether their child was obese.
According to the study, parents of younger children were less likely to think their child was overweight, and were less accurate at judging the weight of boys than girls.
Researchers also found that less educated parents, and those who were overweight themselves, tended to not regard their child as overweight.
The experts presented their findings at the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow.
‘Childhood obesity is one of the most serious health challenges of our time and one that mustn’t be swept under the carpet’
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘Nobody wants to think of themselves or their child as overweight or unhealthy, but the stark truth is that overweight and obese children face numerous, serious health-related problems – both physical and mental – in the years ahead, if their weight is not addressed.
‘This study shows how underestimation is prevalent across the board – including among healthcare professionals – and highlights the importance of taking accurate measurements, so that appropriate and consistent interventions can be implemented to support a child to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle.
‘It also emphasises how vital it is to be frank about weight from an early age as forging healthy behaviours in early life will have a very real impact on a patient’s long-term health and well-being into adulthood.
‘Childhood obesity is one of the most serious health challenges of our time and one that mustn’t be swept under the carpet.’