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Family Health

Obesity Hides Under Parents’ Noses

More than 23 million U.S. children and teenagers between the ages of 2 and 19 are obese or overweight. Health and medical experts consider this trend an epidemic. As parents, you can stem the tide by fighting childhood obesity at home.

A newly released study in the journal Pediatrics found that American parents are significantly less likely to make an accurate assessment of their children’s weight compared with parents from an earlier generation. Researchers pointed out that if moms and dads don’t see the problem, they aren’t likely to be part of the solution.

At-home involvement in weight reduction and maintenance relies on parents recognizing that their child is overweight.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not define childhood obesity by body mass index – as it does for adults – but instead compares the child’s BMI with other kids of the same age and gender. Children who have a BMI at or above the 95th percentile are considered obese, and those with a BMI between the 85th and 95th percentiles are considered overweight.

In 2012, fully 18% of children between the ages of 6 and 11 were considered obese, up from 7% in 1980, according to the study’s authors.

“As the prevalence of pediatric obesity has tripled within decades, the socially accepted ideal body weight may also be shifting accordingly,” wrote the researchers.

What you can do

Most parents see their children in a golden light. But when your child’s doctor or school nurse comments on their weight, take a breath. They are offering you professional advice you should consider an act of concern. The next step toward ensuring your child’s future health is yours. Take a hard look at your child’s eating habits, activity level and fitness routines. Then step it up and encourage healthy changes and model the behavior. Parents can get the entire family up and moving with fun activities that will help every member of the family make positive changes. In the end, you’ll be providing the ultimate gift of love as you take action to reduce their risk of early-onset Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even stroke.

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