Health Risks

If awareness of a problem is the first step to solving it, the U.S. may have a long way to go in solving the daunting problem of childhood obesity. According to a recent study, half of the parents of obese children in the study did not recognize their child’s obesity, and nearly three-quarters did not see their children’s weight as a problem.

Doctors at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, N.Y., asked 260 parents who brought their three- to 10-year-old children to an inner-city clinic whether they would classify their children and themselves as normal, underweight or overweight, and whether they thought their child’s weight was a health problem.

Study results were released at the Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting. While 38 percent of the children were obese, half of these children were misclassified by their parents. Only a small number of the parents had been told by a doctor that their child was overweight, but those who had been told were more likely to assess their child’s weight correctly. More than 70 percent of parents of overweight children did not think that their child’s weight was a health problem, but parents who identified their child as obese were more likely to recognize the dangers of obesity.

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