Kids Health: Disconnection in Children Overweight or Childhood Obesity

Kids Health: Disconnection in children Overweight or Childhood Obesity

Parents of many children who would be considered as overweight or obese do not see their child as being too heavy; many actually think that their child is about the “right” weight. In research published in the February edition of Diabetes Care, Dr. Asheley Cockrell Skinner of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill notes out that this misconception on the part of the parents means that the child will also fail to see their weight as a problem. Dr. Skinner and colleagues say that an important first step in preventing childhood obesity is the recognition that there is a problem. Without this recognition they say, families will not take steps toward diet and lifestyle changes that will prevent continued weight gain.

The researchers interviewed 104 adolescents with type 2 diabetes and their parents about their understanding of the adolescents’ weight, eating, and exercise habits. To assess ideas about weight the teenagers and their parents were asked if the teen was “very overweight, slightly overweight, about right, slightly thin, or very thin?” Among the teens in this group, 87% were overweight by standard measurements (weight, BMI), yet only 41% of their parents and 35% of the teens considered their weight to be a problem. Among teens whose BMI was above the 95th percentile 40% of parents and 55% of the teens thought that the child’s weight was “about right.” For both parents and teens an underestimation of weight was associated with a poorer dietary choices and exercise habits.

The frequency of obesity (BMI greater than the 95th percentile) among adolescents in the US was 4.6% among teens 12-19 years old in 1963-1970, and 6.1% between 1971-74; it rose to 15.5% between 1999-2000. Research has shown that there is a strong relationship between childhood obesity and insulin resistance (a marker of early diabetes) in young adults. Clearly something must be done to improve understanding of what overweight and obesity are, and their implications for health. As these researchers point out, “addressing misperceptions of weight by adolescents and their parents may be an important first step to improving weight in these patients.”

One approach may be addressing the kids directly through school programs that target increased activity. In one trial of students in California, decreasing tv viewing and video game playing from 12 to 8 hours per week led to a smaller increase in BMI among the study group versus the controls who continued their usual level of TV and game activities. A “Kids ‘N Fitness” program that promotes health and wellness in classrooms across the US has shown to decrease weight among at-risk children.

At my age we laugh about how we used to hear our parents and grandparents say, “when I was a kid…” but now we’re in their shoes, aren’t we? When I was a kid, we weren’t allowed more than an hour of TV a day, and that hour was carefully chosen. When we got home from school we had a snack and then it was out the door until dinnertime to play, actively, with our friends. I was an adolescent in that period between 1971-74, when the obesity rate was 6.1%, and I know why. When is this country going to put physical activity back in the schools and make an active effort toward public education about the consequences of obesity? Isn’t it time we stopped wasting money on wars, and created a budget that provides healthcare for all, and TV advertising to compete with Coke, Pepsi, and McDonalds?

this is so dumb the only reason kids are obese are cuz they are able to get to it schools don’t really care too.

Excuse me ma’am, but is a biased political comment necessary in an objective health article?

While there are so many obese teens, I have been concerned that my granddaughter weighs enough for her age..She will be 14 in May and weighs only 78 pounds..She is about 5’2″ tall..Is this normal weight for her age and height? She eats healthy I think and not a lot of junk foods..thanks

Since you brought politics into your discussion, then I’ll ask you this. Why do you ask the government to solve this problem? No one in the government is stuffing your fat kid’s face with Twinkees and soda. This problem could be solved if people took some responsibility for themselves and their kids and learned a little self control. The answer is easy… stop eating so much and go outside, run around and burn off some of your fatty fat!

No one wants BIG BROTHER. The fact that I agree or not does not matter but the blinder veiw that government does not have a responsibility to protect citizens in our lives is childish. Just as we wear seatbelts can’t shoot each other etc.. someone needs to help those without enough “common sense” (try reading the Thomas Paine essay instead of playing gameboy) to keep from killing themselves though inactivity and nutrition ignorance.

Childhood obesity is out of control and I am not surprised. Everything from not have enough safe routes to bike/walk to school and the increased use of video games/computer use contributes to this problem. Not to mention the types of foods available at school and the lack of or accessibility of nutrition information in restaurants significantly impact this issue. There is no easy answer to this problem but I feel very strongly that there needs to be a change to figure one out. Obesity in childhood and adolescence usually continues through adulthood and the associated health complications are horrific. Bottom-line, parents must be strong nutrition role models to encourage their children to maintain a healthy weight. However, they can only do so much in a country that favors a positive energy imbalances. This is where the government should step in, to make changes that will help this parent role to be as easy as it can be. I am not saying there should be a government intervention but rather more safe routes to schools, healthier choices in school cafeterias, greater access to nutrition information, any incentive to make nutrition something enjoyable and convenient… That is all. I don’t mean to sound political b/c that was not my intention! 🙂

This isn’t such a bad article. Sure, it’s got a bite to it, but it’s a perspective to consider. I’m 18, and I can definitely say that it seems like youth have continuously gotten heavier as I’ve grown older. With homework, activities all over town, and then the distraction of 2-D media, it’s not hard to put on a few extra pounds. But look around – she has a point – the majority of the adults I see when out and about usually have a bit of a weight problem. We do need to pay more attention to our health, because, frankly, I’m next in line to be the one saying “when I was your age” to my kids, and I don’t want to finish that sentence with “…things were better than they are now.” We can’t let our priorities for health keep declining. It isn’t just.

As for the government’s place in this, sure, of course they have one – it’s the government’s responsibility to see to the health of the population. That doesn’t mean the whole job goes to them – we all have to do something – but there’s no reason to disparage their potential assistance with changing our mentality on health.

“Excuse me ma’am, but is a biased political comment necessary in an objective health article?”

This is a blog…the author may include whatever bias she pleases.

Why are people so concerned about childhood obesity when the adult population obviously isn’t any better? It seems pretty apparent to me that the reason kids today are overweight is because of a lack of parental influence and discipline. Maybe kids wouldn’t watch tv as much if their parents had any influence on their lives at all!

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