My child's not fat

Despite ongoing reports of the global obesity epidemic, many parents whose children are obese do not see it, a new survey finds.

The survey of 2 060 adults, conducted by Internet research firm Knowledge Networks, collected height and weight measurements on the children from their parents, then used that to calculate body mass index. When a child's BMI was higher than the 95th percentile for children who are the same age and gender, the child was considered obese.

Among parents with an obese, or extremely overweight, child between 6 and 11 years old, 43 percent said their child was "about the right weight," 37 percent said their child was "slightly overweight," and 13 percent said "very overweight." Others said "slightly underweight."

Less denial with older kids
For those with an obese teen between 12 and 17 years old, the survey found more awareness of weight as a problem. Fifty-six percent said their child was "slightly overweight," 31 percent responded "very overweight," 11 percent said "about the right weight," and others said "slightly underweight."

The findings "suggests to me that parents of younger kids believe that their children will grow out of their obesity, or something will change at older ages," said Dr Matthew M. Davis, a University of Michigan professor of paediatrics and internal medicine who led the recently released study, the Associated Press reports.

Parental denial about their kids' weight is worrisome, experts say, because obese children run the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol problems and other ailments more commonly found in adults.

US government statistics estimate that 9 million adolescents (17 percent of the population) are overweight and 80 percent of overweight adolescents grow up to be obese adults. Childhood obesity rates have tripled since 1970.

Dr Reginald Washington, a member of the American Academy of Paediatrics, told the AP that in about half the cases where a child is obese, at least one of the parents is overweight also. – (HealthDayNews)

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Child Centre

December 2007

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