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Parents worried about childhood obesity but not recognizing overweight child

Posted on Jul 12, 2010 by Maggie LaBarbera

A new poll suggests that parents are concerned about the growing childhood obesity crisis in America but they are not recognizing that their child may be overweight.  This is a huge disconnect and we have to ask ourselves "why?'

Why are Americans not seeing that their own child may be overweight or obese and could be facing serious illness as they grow older?   There are several reasons that parents are not seeing the problem:

  • the child has been putting on weight slowly, over time, so it is less noticeable
  • kids overall (25-30% of kids are overweight or obese) are bigger so maybe the overweight child looks to be a normal size in comparison to the other kids
  • parents may be holding on to the notion that "a plump baby or child is a healthy one"
I have children, myself, although grown, and I know as a mother it is not easy.  You don't want to point out their weight and make them feel self conscious.  We love our kids and we don't want to focus on their problems but rather on their achievements, we want to be supportive.

We are in danger of having the first generation that will be sicker and die younger than their parents.  How can we change this if we don't recognize the problem in our home?

The best way to fight childhood obesity is by identifying issues early.  Have your pediatrician calculate the child's BMI to age percentile as a starting point and see where your child falls.  Although this is not exact, it does give you a guideline and starting point for discussion.

Focus less on body image and more on their eating habits and getting a balanced meal.  Help your child be more active by finding activities they enjoy and activities that you can do together as a family.  Your pediatrician and dietitian can really help you curb eating habits with meal planning tips and suggestions.

And, it is so important to keep changes positive and something for the whole family instead of singling out the child.  Remember, that even small changes will add up over time.  These small changes will help your child build healthier habits and be a healthier person in the long run.

Resources to help you get started:

BMI tool

Pediatrician visit discussion sheet by age (just print and take to your next visit)

Setting healthy goals as a family guide

Easy tips on how to get the family moving this summer

help the kids learn about the fun of being healthy, play nutrition games





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