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Monday, Nov. 24, 2014

Your child may be obese and you may not know it

Compiled by Emily Hales, Deseret News National Edition

Published: Thu, July 31 6:05 a.m. MDT

 Patricia Miranda, right, cuts carrots while son Joshua, 8, skins carrots at their home in Oakland, California, June 3, 2010. When Mirandas oldest son, Eduardo, was declared overweight and diagnosed with high cholesterol at age 5, she knew something about the familys eating habits had to change. (Dean Coppola/Contra Costa Times/MCT)

Patricia Miranda, right, cuts carrots while son Joshua, 8, skins carrots at their home in Oakland, California, June 3, 2010. When Mirandas oldest son, Eduardo, was declared overweight and diagnosed with high cholesterol at age 5, she knew something about the familys eating habits had to change. (Dean Coppola/Contra Costa Times/MCT)

(Dean Coppola, MCT)

One of the reasons rates of childhood obesity are so high in the United States might be because children and parents don't recognize the kids are overweight.

The Centers for Disease Control define overweight as having a Body Mass Index, which is a number based on an individual's height and weight, between the 85th and 95th percentile for the individual's age and sex, and obesity as having a BMI at the 95th percentile or above. As of 2012, more than a third of all children in the U.S. were obese or overweight.

However, 81 percent of overweight boys and 71 percent of overweight girls believe they are at the right weight. The same is true for 48 percent of obese boys and 36 percent of obese girls, according to a recent report from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

The Daily Beast commented on the kids' misconceptions, saying, "The most straightforward explanation for the disconnect ... is the prevalence of childhood obesity in this country. When many of your peers look roughly the same way you do, it’s reasonable to conclude that you’re all healthy."

Another problem is that parents don't recognize that their children are unhealthy. In a survey by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 200 parents of children who had been admitted to a clinic for obesity and weight problems were asked to evaluate the health of their children. Thirty-one percent said their child's health was “excellent” or “very good.” Another 28 percent didn't see a problem with their child's weight, according to the Washington Post.

"Again, these are parents whose pediatricians had already told them that they had an obese child — and had agreed to admit that child to a program for obesity treatment," the article continued.

Kyung Rhee, the lead author on the parent survey, told The Atlantic that a culture "normalization of obesity" was partially to blame.

“There are so many kids who are overweight—and so many adults who are overweight—that a lot of parents just don’t recognize it as a problem," she said.

According to the CDC, childhood obesity can lead to future health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.

But how does society help children who struggle with weight problems without creating feelings of self-hatred or inferiority?

"Shame is a terrible motivator," Marlene Schwartz, a psychologist and director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University, told NPR. "It's better to encourage them to get healthier by cutting out snacking in front of the television or cutting out sugary drinks than to tell them they need to lose 20 pounds to be considered 'just right.'"

An article in Deseret News also warns about the danger of making kids feel bad about their weight. A focus on weight and dieting can lead to eating disorders and self-esteem problems. Instead, says Tobie Baumann, a mother and fitness consultant from Cartersville, Georgia, focus on health, not weight.

"Guess what," Baumann tells her own kids, "you will have so much more energy and be even smarter and think faster as your body grows stronger with good food and exercise."

Email: ehales@deseretnews.com

Related story:

Kindergarten obesity is a sign of future weight problems

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1. Baron Scarpia
Logan, UT,
July 31, 2014

Frustratingly, Mrs. Obama has been promoting healthy eating and exercise among America's youth for years, only to have conservatives (e.g., Rush) attack her personally for being "large" (really, she's just very strong and muscular) and for the GOP to attack healthy food programs in schools. I read that even Sarah Palin has passed out cookies at events for kids as a symbol of their "freedom" to choose what they want to eat. "Freedom" trumps health for conservatives.

Unhealthy kids don't bode well for America's future. It will add to ObamaCare costs and make the nation less competitive in terms of our military and work force.

Sadly, because kids' healthy eating and fitness are associated with Mrs. Obama, the GOP will continue to oppose it.

2. srw
Riverton, UT,
July 31, 2014

"The Centers for Disease Control define overweight as having a Body Mass Index, which is a number based on an individual's height and weight, between the 85th and 95th percentile for the individual's age and sex, and obesity as having a BMI at the 95th percentile or above."

With these definitions, we would expect to find 10% of the children overweight and 5% of them obese. So how is it possible for over a third of the children to be overweight?

It is important to note that (according to an article on the CDC web site) the data used to construct the standard growth charts were collected in 1963-1994.

3. Jamescmeyer
Midwest City, USA, OK,
July 31, 2014

Hold on a second, now. Conservatives and Republicans haven't attacked efforts to encourage healthy eating (which does not require kale shakes); they attack efforts to force healthy eating by legistlation. As for here:
(really, she's just very strong and muscular)
... Okay.

I share your concerns about rising costs of socialized healthcare and decreased average labor capacity. That's why the GOP has been trying to encourage opportunities for people to go out and do things, rather than collect other peoples' money.

Normally when the topic of weight is brought up, concerns are raised about improper body image and social pressures to meet unrealistic standards of figure. These are valid concerns, and they're by far not even exclusive to girls, but the opposite extreme does exist.

4. Redshirt1701
Deep Space 9, Ut,
July 31, 2014

To "Jamescmeyer" what efforts has the government made for healthy eating through legislation?

If you are talking about school lunches, they are not healthy now, and they have not been healthy for decades. When congress has to declare pizza sauce a vegetable that only shows how incompetent they are.

If the government really was concerned with healthy eating why not start with something they already control with a group that is overweight. The poor that are on food stamps and other government nutrition programs have higher obesity rates than the rest of the population. Why not start there? Limit food stamps to only healthy food items. Prevent food stamps from being applied to chips, soda, packaged meals, junk food, and everything else that is known for being unhealthy.

This will also save the government money because they could cut the amount of money given per month for food stamps.

5. Johnny Triumph
American Fork, UT,
July 31, 2014

My own weight loss experience started when I quit thinking that the BMI was wrong and outdated. Why in the world should I not weigh what is in the healthy BMI range? Once I figured this out I've lost 50 lbs with another 20 to go to hit my range. When parents ignore their own problems the children will fall in line and gain weight as well. It's time we quit this and get healthy.