Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Health & Parenting

Font Size
A
A
A

Many Parents Don't See Child Obesity

Childhood Obesity Poll: Parents Often Don’t Recognize Their Own Child's Obesity
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 11, 2007 -- Most parents recognize childhood obesity as a problem, but many fail to see it in their own kids, a new childhood obesity poll shows.

The poll included 2,060 U.S. adults. Parents made up about two-thirds of the group.

The poll notes a "stark mismatch" between children's obesity and their parents' recognition of their child's obesity.

That concerns Matthew Davis, MD, MAAP, who directs the National Poll on Children's Health for the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

"It is critical to address obesity in the childhood years -- at home, and in schools and other community settings," Davis says in a news release.

"But in order to address childhood obesity at home, parents must first recognize that a child is not at a healthy weight for their height. Parents also must be concerned enough to want to do something about their children's obesity," Davis says.

Childhood Obesity Poll

The poll was conducted online last summer. The parents who were polled reported their oldest child's height and weight. Using those figures, the researchers calculated the kids' BMI (body mass index), which relates height to weight.

The researchers defined childhood obesity as BMI in the 95th percentile or higher for the children's age and sex. Overweight BMI started in the 85th percentile for the children's age and sex.

A quarter of children ages 6-17 were overweight or obese. That's lower than other national estimates, which put the figure at 35%, note Davis and colleagues.

Parents of teens were more likely than parents of younger kids to recognize that their obese child was at least "slightly" overweight.

But overall, many parents didn't recognize extra weight in their own children and teens. Those findings are in line with another poll released earlier this year.

Almost all of the parents -- 84% -- indicated that they think it is "very important" for doctors to address obesity with adolescents during regular checkups.

That finding suggests that many parents are willing to discuss the issue with doctors and would welcome doctors' guidance on kids' weight, note Davis and colleagues.

Extra Weight, Health Risks

Extra weight raises health risks for children, and overweight children often grow up to become overweight adults, notes the CDC.

Last week, a Danish study linked extra weight in children to adult risk of heart disease.

The CDC and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provide these tips for parents:

  • Encourage healthy eating habits for the whole family. Include fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain products as part of a healthy diet.
  • Watch portion size. For instance, a cup of cereal should be the size of a tennis ball, 3 ounces of cooked meat is the size of a deck of cards, and a pancake is the size of a compact disc.
  • Limit sugary drinks, sugary foods, and saturated fat.
  • Emphasize activity. Kids and teens should get at least a daily hour of moderate intensity physical activity such as playing tag, jumping rope, playing soccer, swimming, or dancing.
  • Curb sedentary time. Reading and doing homework is fine, but limit kids' time watching TV, playing video games, or surfing the web to no more than 2 hours per day. The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn't recommend any TV time for kids age 2 or younger.

Today on WebMD

family walking on the beach
Slideshow
two boys in a swing
Article
 
mistakes_parents_make_with_toddlers_2.jpg
Article
woman with cleaning products
Slideshow
 
mother and daughter talking
Tool
child brushing his teeth
Slideshow
 
Sipping hot tea
Slideshow
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
Video
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Build a Fitter Family Challenge – Get your crew motivated to move.
Feed Your Family Better Challenge - Tips and tricks to healthy up your diet.
Sleep Better Challenge - Snooze clues for the whole family.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
Article
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
 
tissue box
Quiz
Child with adhd
Slideshow