WEDNESDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- Overweight and obese people often think they weigh less than they do, and many mothers of chubby kids view their children's bulk as normal, new research finds.
The study of women and children conducted at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City found that faulty body image was far more prevalent among the heaviest participants than people of normal weight.
"The implications of this is the overwhelming impact of obesity on children who are growing up in communities where obesity and overweight is the norm rather than the exception," said lead author Dr. Nicole Dumas, a medical resident at Columbia.
"It sort of skews their image of what they see as being a normal or healthy weight," Dumas added.
The 111 urban moms -- whose average age was 39 -- and 111 children were asked to choose a silhouette that best represented their own body size. About 66 percent of the mothers were overweight or obese, as were 39 percent of their children, who ranged from 7 to 13 years old.
Of the obese women, only 18 percent chose silhouettes that were obese, while 76 percent chose overweight forms. The remainder selected normal shapes to represent their body size. Of the merely overweight women, just under 58 percent selected an overweight shape, and nearly 43 percent selected a normal-size silhouette.
"There has been other data of overweight individuals that shows that your perception of body weight is different with individuals who are in a situation where the majority is overweight," said Alice H. Lichtenstein, professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University in Boston.
Noting that our society as a whole is hefting more fat, she said living in a culture where obesity is common "is going to affect our perception of ourselves and our children."
Excess weight is a risk factor for health problems includ
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