The majority of people are unable to identify a normal-weight child when presented with pictures depicting children of different sizes, an expert has claimed.
According to Professor Paul Gately, the number of overweight children
in the UK has risen to such an extent that the average person can no longer detect obesity when they see it.
The professor told the Birmingham Post that Britain is suffering from a "national ignorance" about obesity that is not limited to a particular group of parents.
"I give presentations and I will put pictures up of children of different ages and types and ask people to rate whether they are underweight, normal, overweight or obese," he revealed.
"Most people get it wrong. They label the normal-weight kids as underweight and describe the overweight kids as normal. Even the low level obese kids would be described as a 'bit overweight'."
The expert said that, years ago, children had extra padding that was described as 'puppy fat' and that was usually lost when the youngsters hit a growth spurt.
"Historically children used to grow out of it, but there is pretty strong evidence that now they don't and levels of obesity continue to rise," he said.
Professor Gately's concerns are mirrored by a recent government-commissioned report which warned that a quarter of children will be dangerously overweight by 2050.