Value of Childhood Obesity Screening Unclear
Researchers See Little Evidence That Screening Prevents Obesity-Related Illnesses
WebMD News Archive
Parents Often Don't See Problem
In a related study also published in the journal, researchers reported that
parents frequently don't recognize that their child is overweight, or say they
feel powerless to do anything about it.
The researchers surveyed 151 parents of children; 62% of the kids were
overweight or obese. The researchers found almost half of the parents (44%)
and were classified as
having no interest in changing behaviors in the next six months. Another 17% of
parents did recognize that their child had a problem, and were thinking about
making a change, but not soon.
Pediatrician and study co-author Cynthia DeLago, MD, MPH, tells WebMD that
parents who were overweight themselves often recognized the problem in their
children, but had taken no action.
"We don't know exactly, but it is likely that many of these
struggles with weight," she says. "You
might hear, 'Everybody in our family is big. It's genetics, and there isn't
anything we can do about it.'"
The researchers found that parents of children who were 8 years old or older
were more likely to be ready to address their child's weight issues than
parents of younger children.
DeLago says the realization that parents' attitudes about their children's
weight vary widely has changed the way she practices medicine.
"It is important to understand where a parent is coming by asking if
their child's weight is a concern," she says. "The discussion that you
have with a parent who says 'yes' is very different from the one you have with
one who says 'no.'"
She adds that parents are often reluctant to take action until the child
sees his or her weight as an issue, usually around the time they hit middle
"The problem is that by then you have established certain eating
patterns that are really hard to break," she says.
So What Can a Parent Do?
While she agrees that studies addressing childhood obesity are badly needed,
pediatric weight loss specialist Melinda Sothern, PhD, says there are effective
intervention programs for overweight kids.