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Many Parents Blind to Kid's Weight Problems

By sandymaple |

National statistics show that nearly one third of American children and teens are overweight or obese.  But while the majority of adults say they believe that “childhood obesity is a “significant and growing challenge for the country,”  most of them are convinced that their child is not part of the problem.

A new study conducted by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) finds that as the obesity epidemic continues to grow,  so does denial.  If the 84% of parents who feel confident that their own child is at a healthy weight are correct, then just whose kids are overweight?

According to the  study “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2010,” not only are African American parents more likely to underestimate their child’s weight, they are also among those more likely to have an overweight child.  And in a study of low-income Latinos, it was found that many mothers actually prefer their children to be a little plump.  Both of those findings likely contribute to the fact that in 40 states, the obesity rates for blacks and Latinos were found to be higher than for whites.

But money plays a part as well.  35.3 percent of adults who earn less than $15,000 a year are obese, compared with 24.5 percent who make $50,000 or more.  And if a parent is obese, statistics say there is a 50% chance that their children will be obese as well.

But regardless of who they are, experts say a major contributor to weight denial among parents may be the simple fact that kids are bigger than they used to be.  An overweight kid just doesn’t stand out from the crowd like he used to.

That may be, but could it also be that parents are just afraid to talk to their kids about weight?   With 10% of girls said to be “vulnerable” to eating disorders and all the conflicting advice we hear about what to say and do regarding our children’s food intake, it’s no wonder many parents ignore the topic altogether rather than risk a misstep.

But, as Dr. James Marks, senior vice president of RWJF, points out, willfully ignoring the problem won’t make it go away.  “We’re in danger of raising the first generation of children who could live sicker and die younger than the generation before them,” he says.

With 1 in 3 American children at risk for obesity and diabetes, weight issues are something we can’t afford to ignore.  For tips on how to encourage your kids to eat healthy, check out Babble’s 9 Ways to Encourage Healthy Attitudes About Food.

Image: Bruce Tuten/Flickr

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21 thoughts on “Many Parents Blind to Kid's Weight Problems

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  2. [...] workforce of 17000 determined that the percentage of …Battling the bulgeMonroe News StarMany Parents Blind to Kid's Weight ProblemsBabble (blog)Health in a heart beat: Health news in briefGoErie.comGadsden Times -The [...]

  3. [...] Many Parents Blind to Kid's Weight ProblemsBabble (blog)According to the study “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2010,” not only are African American parents more likely to underestimate their …Our View: Adult obesity on the riseGadsden Times [...]

  4. Annmaureen says:

    The part of the equasion is it is hard to feed your children healthy today…They have such access to sweets, and since so many families eat unhealthy my children always tell me I am a bad parent for feeding them healthy. Also I put in an incredible amount of energy getting my kids to soccer and track practice. While my son easily found a sport he excels and enjoys it has been challenging to find a sport my daughter enjoys, she and I made an agreement she gets to do piano and vocals but must also participate on track. I do work full time, so there is a lot of sacrifice on my and my husbands part to accomplish our goals. BUT we decided to have children and have a responsibility to them and society to rear them to become successful adults who contribute to our society.

  5. LogicalMama says:

    I know a number of overweight children and unfortunately, the parents are in complete denial about it! There are a few of them and each one of them doesn’t think their child(ren) are overweight. It saddens me, really, but change is hard for many people.

  6. [...] workforce of 17000 determined that the percentage of …Battling the bulgeMonroe News StarMany Parents Blind to Kid's Weight ProblemsBabble (blog)Health in a heart beat: Health news in briefGoErie.comGadsden Times -The [...]

  7. [...] of a study carried out by the Trust for …Youth obesity scares businessesKennebec JournalMany Parents Blind to Kid's Weight ProblemsBabble (blog)Battling the bulgeMonroe News StarGoErie.com -Gadsden Times -The Star-Ledger [...]

  8. [...] were more likely to underestimate the weight of their children, and more likely to have an …Many Parents Blind to Kid's Weight ProblemsBabble [...]

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  19. LindaLou says:

    Why do people say it’s hard to feed their children healthy food? I don’t get it. Don’t bring crap in to you home! Even my teen eats most of her meals and snacks at home (or brings food from home.) I think the issue is that the parents want junk food in the house and aren’t willing to forgo it for the sake of feeding their children a healthy diet. Also, people are meant to exercise every single day. People who get moving don’t have to watch every bite! This is such a pet peeve of mine. Several of my daughter’s friends are basically home alone for the entire summer doing nothing but playing video games and watching TV. My kids are at swim team practice by 7:45am every morning. And yeah, I’d rather be sleeping, but I’m the adult and I’m responsible for molding lifelong habits now.

  20. [...] of a study carried out by the Trust for …Youth obesity scares businessesKennebec JournalMany Parents Blind to Kid's Weight ProblemsBabble (blog)Battling the bulgeMonroe News StarGoErie.com -Gadsden Times -The Star-Ledger [...]

  21. Jess says:

    I think a part of the equation that people tend to ignore is that it is a LOT harder for low and low-middle income families afford costs of activities like soccer, swimming, etc for children who are too young to be on school teams. With a larger percentage of families living in apartments with no access to backyards and safe play areas, or both parents working odd hours to survive, it is no wonder the childhood obesity epidemic is on the rise. Many people assume the issue is what people are feeding their kids, and this just isn’t always so. Speaking from experience, my healthy-weight 5 yr old turned into an overweight 6 yr old when I went back to work and we moved into a 3rd floor apartment, and I did not suddenly start feeding him junk. It was a gradual event, but now that I have noticed, and had it confirmed by my pediatrician, I am seeking out more activities that are affordable for him to be involved in, but costs for kids’ sports in the city we currently live in are a bit ridiculous.

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