Parents in denial about obesity

Sugar addicts ... start healthy habits early.
Sugar addicts ... start healthy habits early. 

MANY parents are ''in complete denial'' about their child's weight, obesity specialists say.

''Families come here but they still don't click that they have a child that fits into that [obese] category,'' said Dr Shirley Alexander, who runs the weight management program at The Children's Hospital at Westmead.

Parental involvement in obesity treatment is crucial for children to develop healthy eating habits.

Dr Chris Tzar said parents would drop off their child at his Medikids program at the University of NSW and then take off. ''We have to call them to come back,'' he said.

''They're in complete denial.''

Dr Michelle Jack, the head of paediatric endocrinology at Royal North Shore Hospital, said parents regularly asked her not to mention ''the 'w' word'' in front of their children.

''Parents bring kids in and don't want to talk about the child's weight in front of them. It's a little bit of a taboo topic in our culture.''

She said many parents thought their child's weight was a hormonal problem. ''They're coming in hoping they can find a medical cause that we can fix with a pill, but that's less than 1 per cent of cases.

''We don't have a magic wand; we don't have a pill. It's hard work and there are no short cuts. You have to eat less and exercise more.''