Study: Parents Don’t View Obesity as Serious Medical Issue

_45117853_boy_cred226Obesity affects between 15 and 30 percent of American children, but a new study shows that many parents do not consider obesity to be a medical issue on par with other conditions like diabetes, asthma, or learning disabilities.

The study, conducted by Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, found that only 54 percent of parents say they would seek medical attention for an overweight child, whereas 81 percent would do so for diabetes symptoms, 80 percent for asthma, and 74 percent for learning difficulties.

“Despite the attention on the obesity epidemic, the disconnect found among parents regarding the long term outcomes associated with childhood obesity is concerning,” said Sarah Hampl, MD, medical director, Weight Management Services at Children’s Mercy, in a statement. “Obese children have both immediate and future health problems, including hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. The survey illustrates that parents need help connecting the dots between having an overweight child and what their future health consequences may be.”

Notably, the study also found that 80 percent of parents believe they have the greatest potential to combat obesity, though nearly 60 percent said schools can have a great impact by offering healthy lunch choices and teaching children healthy eating habits.

(image via: http://smartpei.typepad.com/)

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  1. by Teshia

    On September 12, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    This saddens me. By not treating the problem early they are only asking for all the problems that come with obesity, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and much more. I am constantly pushing my 3 boys outside to go play to prevent them from becoming overweight but too many parents would rather just not worry with it and would put them in front of a t.v. because it keeps them quiet.

  2. by Stacey

    On September 12, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    It’s because most of the parents themselves are obese. I did not grow up eating a nutritionally balanced meal every night and it still affects my eating to this day. I work so hard to teach my girls how to eat balanced, healthy and correctly propotioned meals (and snacks). It is our job as parents to teach our children how to best take care of themselves.

  3. by Carole

    On September 12, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Obesity is such a pervasive problem in today’s society, I think it is considered “normal”. I live in an area of NYC, where there are a greater proportion of overweight individuals and my son attends preschool on this area. I find it so sad to see so many obese children. They are unaesthetic to run and play as children ought to be able. They ate being set up for eay onset cholesterol and diabetic proems as well as fostering a whole new generation of overweight children. It is up to the parents to modify their behavior and diet. I recently went on a field trip and got to see what other parents packed for their child’s lunch – one boy had only candy, potato chips and soda. Another had a sandwich, potato chips, pudding and cookies. We are the parents – we are responsible for what our children eat and how much activity they get. We are responsible for their health.

  4. by Erin

    On September 12, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    I would definately be concerned if my child was over weight. I grew up in a home where my parents forced us to eat everything on our plate even if we were full. We ate alot of unhealthy foods and my parents always said my weight issue was just baby fat. I wish my parents would have taken more initiative to help me get my weight under control as a child. I now am having issues with my weight and would never wish this on my chilld. My kids are very active and tv and video games are very limited. We endorse lots of active play and a healthy diet. i dont know many kids that would prefer fruit over candy and chips but my kids do. And they prefer water to sugary drinks. Its all about how you raise your children and what they grow up learning to eat.

  5. by Annette

    On September 12, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    i don’t see how parents let their kids get that way!! honestly my kids are on the smaller side, but me and their dad are both small. they put my kids on the lower percentile but i think that’s just because the average weight is overweight. it’s makes me sad when i see a four year old that weighs 60 lbs when my 7 tear old is only 47. the doctor said my kids are fine and proportionate. i think it’s all about diet and what parents let their kids eat. all the frozen foods, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, and burrito’s is what is causing the problem. it’s easy to prepare so that’s what the kids eat. it’s alot healthier to cut up a chicken breast and rice for dinner. and my kids have yogurt or a fruit for a snack. parents just need to be more aware of what they are feeding their kids, and not take the easy way out.

  6. by Heidi

    On September 13, 2011 at 1:32 am

    There’s a key bit of information missing here, what exactly are the outcomes of the children who receive some kind of medical intervention versus those who do not? If the “medical treatment” includes a restrictive diet and shaming a child into losing weight, then seeking treatment may be the worst thing that parents can do. Data shows that dieting in childhood is simply not effective, it may even be harmful. Pennsylvania State University researchers found that young girls who weighed too much and who tried to diet ended up putting on more weight. The unhappier the girls grew with their weight, the more they tried to diet and the more they failed. Of course young children should be fed healthy foods and encouraged to be active (they love being active anyway, they are usually trained into inactivity by parents and teachers who force them to sit still for hours on end) but telling a child that they are fat and need medical treatment to “fix” them is a bad idea. Restricting all junk food is a bad idea, making a child be the only one at the birthday party who is not allowed a piece of cake is a bad idea. Telling a child how much better they will look when they lose the weight or making them feel ashamed of how they look is a very bad idea. Yet these tactics are used not only by some parents, but by some professionals as well (anybody have THAT gym teacher?) And before you jump to conclusions, my three kids are actually a bit underweight, despite the fact that I do not make them diet or enforce (as opposed to allow) exercise. Children will thrive if they are raised in a proper environment, overly strict rules about food and exercise or teaching children that they should fear gaining weight or that fat people are lazy and evil should never enter into the equation.

  7. by Valerie

    On September 13, 2011 at 8:18 am

    One of my 4 children was having problems with obesity. I was very confused because my other 3 kids sit down to the same dinner table and eat the same food, so I wasn’t sure where we were going wrong. I spoke with her pediatrician about it and she referred us to a nutritionist, but our MILITARY health insurance refused to pay for the consultation. So much for supporting military families and caring about children’s obesity! Well, we don’t give up, and we are smart enough to figure this out, right?!?!?

    She is 9, and her dad gave her an ipod which had My Fitness Pal on it. We decided that 1200 calories a day would be a good starting point and we tried to include 30-60 minutes of exercise each day. The really awesome thing about having her enter her foods is that she lerned about calories, serving sizes, and had to use fractions to decide how much of a serving she had eaten. (ie. 3 sausage links are a serving, and she ate 2, how much of a serving did she eat? 2/3!)

    Also the app deciphers her diet and gives us a nutritional overview of everything she eats! So we could see that she was eating way too much carbohydrates and not enough protien or fat. She worked on it for 6 weeks and it stores your usual foods so that you don’t have to look them up over and over again. She started referring to her ipod to figure out what she should eat and when she’d had enough. She stopped asking me for second helpings and started punching in her information and saying, “Oh, I’ve had enough, I want to save room for popcorn later.” She felt empowered and in charge of her health, her body, and her choices.

    She lost 5 lbs in 6 weeks, which I thought was perfect since she was about 30 lbs overweight. We just want her to maintain, or loose very gradually and learn about her diet and nutritional intake. This isn’t about loosing a ton of weight right now and being on a “DIET”, this is about how she is going to choose foods and incorporate exercise for the rest of her life. We love to put her gummy vites on and see what it does to her overall vitamin information!

    We found out very quickly that a pack or two of fruit snacks and a handful of chips after school were tremendously high in calories (240) and totally sabotaging her efforts, but she could have an entire bowl of watermelon for 60 calories. It is really deceptive how those fruit snacks seem so small and harmless and meant for kid consumption, but they’re just a pitfall! She learned to budget for things and decide for her self if they were really worth it.

    I have to tell you about the day we wanted to have Dairy Queen for lunch and she was trying to fit it into her lunchtime calorie budget! Wow! That was a day of hard choices, and we found out that sometimes you just can’t meet your goals and have what you want, but occasionally that’s ok.

    I love my kiddo! She is just perfect, and so smart and capable I know that if she gets the right information and uses the tools we found that she is going to keep doing fantastic on her goals to be healthy!

    So if your child is struggeling with diet and exercise research some tools that will help them to see where the snaggs are and what works. Hey, we had a couple of 3000 calorie days like when we went to the State Fair, Kettle Korn and Cotton Candy!!!OOPS! And we had a couple of days where we swam for 6 hours at the lake all day and burned 1600 calories having a BLAST! Roll with it, but look at your weekly averages and see how it all shakes out! Just support them in learning the strategies that will help them to live a fantastic and healthy life! God Bless!

  8. by josey

    On September 14, 2011 at 8:07 am

    My daughter is overweight and now her son is.When she was young we worked on weight but I did not hound her.I had friends that hounded their kids and they became anorexia, bulimic and substance abusers. I did not want this for her.she is a great Mom and daughter.I am worried about her son now. How can I help both without turning them into one of the above.(those kids are still fat with problems)I struggle with weight too.

  9. by christian louboutin

    On January 14, 2012 at 6:53 am

    Some truly fantastic articles on this site, thankyou for contribution.