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Health & Parenting

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Parents Don't See Childhood Obesity as Serious

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Right now, about 25% of American children are overweight, with about 10-15% falling into the obese category. The number of overweight and obese Americans is increasing so fast that it is being called an epidemic. At the same time, research shows that obesity is very difficult to treat.

"The public is still expecting a single miracle drug that's going to make this problem disappear, and that's not going to happen," says Morgan Downey, JD, executive director and chief executive officer of the AOA. "The body is extremely good at engaging compensatory mechanisms for weight maintenance. Until we understand all of those, and the impact of genetics on weight, it's like me trying to play chess against a grand master. I have a chance, but it's a very slim one, of success."

The National Institutes of Health is funding a good deal more research on obesity, but it is also focusing a lot of effort on prevention, says Dietz.

"Although there are some interventions and medications that may help people control their weight, we know that for most of them, lifestyle changes, including modification of food intake and exercise, are what's required," he says. "Just as is the case for other chronic diseases, prevention is key."

For more information from WebMD, see our Diseases and Conditions page on Weight Control.

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