Many Parents Don't See Child Obesity
Childhood Obesity Poll: Parents Often Don’t Recognize Their Own Child's Obesity
WebMD News Archive
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
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
"It is critical to address obesity in the childhood years -- at home,
and in schools and other community settings," Davis says in a news
"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
Parents of teens were more likely than
parents of younger kids to recognize that their obese child was at least
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
That finding suggests that many parents are willing to discuss the issue
with doctors and would welcome doctors' guidance on kids' weight, note Davis
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
- 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.