Many Parents Think Their Obese Child’s Health Is Good

Jul 28, 2014

By Cari Nierenberg

 

Nearly 1 in 3 parents whose children were referred to an obesity clinic did not perceive their child’s weight as a health problem, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that 31 percent of parents of obese or overweight children considered their child’s health to be excellent or very good, and 28 percent of parents did not view their child’s weight as a health concern.

It might be hard for parents to be objective about their child’s weight and health unless someone else, such as a pediatrician or school nurse, points out that there may be a problem, said lead author Dr. Kyung Rhee, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

“I think many parents may think that being slightly chubby is OK, and that their child will grow out of it,” Rhee said.

Or these parents’ perceptions may have something to do with the normalization of obesity in the U.S., Rhee said. As people see more and more overweight people around them, perhaps they don’t recognize they are overweight themselves and don’t realize the medical consequences for a child who remains overweight, she said.

To determine how motivated parents were to help make changes in their child’s eating habits and physical activity levels, the researchers surveyed 202 parents whose children had been referred by a physician to a pediatric obesity clinic in Rhode Island. The kids ranged in age from 5 to 20, and 94 percent of them were obese.

The findings were published online June 23 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Getting kids moving

Although 94 percent of parents surveyed admitted their child was obese or overweight, parents said they found it challenging to help their daughter or son change their behavior to successfully lose weight.

22 comments on “Many Parents Think Their Obese Child’s Health Is Good

  • If we even intimated sitting in front of a TV we were ” urged ” to go outside and play with our friends. Our play was energetic to say the least.

    ” Nearly 1 in 3 parents whose children were referred to an obesity clinic did not perceive their child’s weight as a health problem, a new study suggests. ”

    Now what could possibly be the reason for that?

    Now I do three sets of push ups per day (49–44–50 now ), two sets of sit ups (75 per set ) and walk the dog four times a day ( about 2 hours and 40 minutes in summer, all walks ). As a child I was motivated to exercise and now as an adult I find it not too terrible hard to self motivate.

    These children, quite a few of them, will find it extremely hard to motivate themselves to do anything more strenuous than texting.



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  • This is another example of the rose coloured glasses we use to view our own children. They’re all really bright, so bright in fact that school bores them! They need more challenging fare. And, they’re all the perfect weight, well-covered; the other kids a just mean saying that they’re fat! Well, they are mean but that’s beside the point. I’ve heard all the terms used to describe the overweight child: puppy fat, well covered, chubby, big boned, cuddly and more.

    There’s an even more disturbing trend and that is blaming the young child for their own level of obesity. This greedy child is eating all the crisps, biscuits, cakes, sweets, ice-cream etc bought by mum/dad and stashed around the house. The poor kid is also drinking the soft drink in the fridge (bought, I might add, and placed in the fridge). They are not going outside by themselves to run off the fat. Big surprise!

    I’m starting to sound mean and grumpy even to myself. I should just quit now.



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  • There are some old world ideas connected with plumpness that may still be hanging on in some quarters, such as:

    plump=robust good health

    skinny=frail and weak

    in case of sickness one needs to have a substantial layer of fat or starvation could kill before the actual illness does



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  • Cannabis advertising is banned but food advertising is not.
    People who want cannabis for medical conditions sometimes have to break the law or go without. In any case, it is only believed to have minimal detrimental effects on health. In sharp contrast, the food industry legally promotes the deathly practice of eating too much of the wrong kind of foods. Obesity is reckoned to be the number one health hazard for today’s kids in the West – yet the politicians, health services and the public do almost nothing about this killing of the next generation.

    These facts all demonstrate how we humans have superior intelligence!



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  • Nitya

    I’m starting to sound mean and grumpy even to myself. I should just quit now.

    Please don’t ! Your posts are usually so well received by me !

    And yes of course kids should be out playing and using up energy. When I was a kid playing cowboys and indybums, (apologies instantly issued to any offended by such a term), in the street with my brother and whoever else, part of the game was to ignore our mother’s pleas to come in because it was bedtime, and get her to physically come out and drag us in ! For all that she still likes us ! And we both still have relatively good blood pressure !

    I know, anecdotal, but maybe with a wee spark of truth in there ?



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  • @MrDArcy
    Thanks for your endorsement of my comments. I used to go to this site after reading the paper in the morning. I find that I’m now lured in by some mild form of OCD and delay reading the paper until mid-morning (just skimming the headlines nowadays). I gather you’re from the UK or another Commonwealth country and probably interpret things in the same light.

    When our kids were young I set out with the express purpose of keeping them at a good weight. I took the responsibility of their weight on my shoulders as I considered that parents owe their children freedom from the taunts that being a “fatty” can bring. We didn’t eat dessert regularly and I didn’t stock the cupboards with ‘ forbidden fruit’. My husband is a keen sportsman and saw to it that they kept active.

    It came to my attention while mixing with other mothers waiting at the school gate, that the burden of responsibility for their own children’s excess weight was placed on the shoulders of their five and six year olds.This seemed unfair.

    The other point of view often expressed, was that their children were not overweight but simply pleasantly plump or even robust as suggested by Laurie B. They were going through a phase and would grow out of it. They often managed to grow into well built teenagers, but not always.



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  • You’re not being mean and grumpy at all, unless being honest is just so intolerable to most people that it makes on by default mean. I don’t accept that. If ever there were a forum to celebrate the brutally empirical it is this one.
    I used to work as a pubic school teacher. Parents came mostly in one of two varieties. They either showed no interest whatsoever in the education of their child. Or, they could’t understand why I didn’t just realize how awesome their child is and fork over an A.



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  • @Robert
    Me too. As much as I loved my job and really loved teaching kids, teaching English to adults was much easier and more fulfilling.
    I made every attempt not to be one of ‘those’ parents! You know the type; they think their child is the only one in the class and the rights and feelings of every other child should be take second place.The ones who think that your entire day should be spent in an effort to make their kid ‘shine’. I could go on.

    On the weighty topic of excess fat, we both know how cruel kids can be. It only takes one distinguishing feature ( such as body weight) and they’ll subject the poor kid to endless taunts unless said kid has a great deal of personal charisma or exceptional sporting ability!



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  • Lifestyle moralism in the guise of scientific study. God save us from the righteous indignation of the “Something Must Be Done” experts.



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  • @OP “I think many parents may think that being slightly chubby is OK, and that their child will grow out of it,” Rhee said.

    This probably dates back to times of war and famine (which still exist in many parts of the world), when plump was a sign of health and status in areas of malnutrition and starvation.
    Where life is harsh brutish and short, the obesity problems in later life, are unlikely to regarded as negative by the survivors of famines who have out-lived their contemporaries.

    Also parents/relatives/communities where the figure of a walrus is the norm, are unlikely to notice obesity in their children.



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  • harry Jul 31, 2014 at 12:40 am

    Lifestyle moralism in the guise of scientific study.

    Advise from nutritionists and doctors on healthy nutrition, is based on scientific study, and offered as expert medical opinion. –
    This should not be confused with product advertisers “dieticians”, opinions in trashy magazines, promoting their products.

    God save us from the righteous indignation of the “Something Must Be Done” experts.

    People may listen to expert advice on medical issues, or they can ignore it, but nature often enforces a death penalty on those ignoring expert advice.
    On obesity, “Something must be done”, by those wishing to live and remain healthy into old age!



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  • two sets of sit ups (75 per set )

    Ditch the sit-ups, unless you have iron disks in your back. Repeated flexion under a load could lead to eventual herniation. Also, traditional situps don’t hit the abs much anyway, a lot of the stress is in on the hip flexors.

    Replace with exercises like planks or other ab exercises that don’t rely on repeated flexion of the back.



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  • > People may listen to expert advice on medical issues, or they can ignore it, but nature often enforces a death penalty on those ignoring expert advice.

    [First sentence removed by moderator. Please re-read Terms of Use regarding courtesy to other users.]

    You know, you can sell an atheist anything: bridges, used cars, religious experiences. Anything. It's like they have no natural resistance at all. Particularly in a place where traditional religious morality is seen as anathema, then you can sell them health advice as the means by which the inveterate do-gooder can judge daily behaviour, shape attitudes, and punish transgressions. Scientific evidence to replace moral judgement, obesity to replace gluttony, and illness to become judgement for wayward behaviour. To remind of the eternal threat of punishment and cancer, diabetes and early death take the place of the final damnation, the Hell that awaits those who eat the wrong foods, those who refuse to get into shape and, most importantly, those who defiantly refuse to listen to the lessons from the experts on high. Health advice slowly but surely filling the gap left by the fall of morality, its focus on the body and its preying on individual fears perfectly suited to our era of low expectations and heightened individuation.



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  • harry

    You know, you can sell an atheist anything: bridges, used cars, religious experiences. Anything. It’s like they have no natural resistance at all.

    I assume harry is being ironic. If not, I have a great liking for bridges, especially in New York ! Give it a shot harry !



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  • harry’s last remark was a bit too vague for me about dietary advice and exercise.

    Does harry have kids ? Would he let them eat what they like whenever they want to ? Would he make sure that they had enough exercise to keep them healthy ?

    Nothing at all to do with atheism or theism. Just one of the joys and burdens of being a parent. And knowing that you have the responsibility to do the best you can for your offspring.

    No god / God needed.



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  • It's an inconvenient truth, isn't it? It's not healthy to be fat. That's why I lost 40 lbs (since gained 10 back, but I'm taking it off again). I was skinny in childhood but got into some bad habits in college. I was overweight for 11 years and at one point was half a pound away from clinical obesity and prediabetic. Because I put on weight in the front, I was at a higher risk for heart disease. I'm not going to say that losing weight is easy. It isn't. But what I've learned is that you have to figure out what works for you. Calories out vs. calories in is the short answer, but how to get to that is more difficult. Dr. "Death" Kevorkian actually wrote a dieting book about his own experiences with weight gain and how he handled it (and no, it didn't involve starving himself to death). What is clever about this book is how he superficially talks about how his method for weight loss is the only way. But he's being sarcastic. He's pointing out that it begins and ends with YOU. [Removed by moderator]



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  • harry, speaking of atheists

    It’s like they have no natural resistance at all. Particularly in a place where traditional religious morality is seen as anathema, then you can sell them health advice as the means by which the inveterate do-gooder can judge daily behaviour, shape attitudes, and punish transgressions.

    Oh dear ! “No natural resistance ” ! I can assure harry that my “natural resistance” to religious tomfoolery is indeed very strong ! But come on, – sell me that bridge if it’s so easy !



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  • Nitya

    I gather you’re from the UK or another Commonwealth country and probably interpret things in the same light.

    Yes indeed. Born in Scotland, and now resident in London. I am mildly concerned if I will need my passport to go the land where I was born after the referendum for supposed “independence” on 18th September. (Independent of what?) At the moment I cross the border in both directions at about 75 mph. Unless I am on the train, which goes much faster !



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  • [First sentence removed by moderator. Please re-read Terms of Use regarding courtesy to other users.]

    Thank you I am aware of your terms of use regarding courtesy to other users. I am also aware that some people are offered more courtesy than other people.



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  • harry Aug 3, 2014 at 11:18 am

    People may listen to expert advice on medical issues, or they can ignore it, but nature often enforces a death penalty on those ignoring expert advice.

    You know, you can sell an atheist anything: bridges, used cars, religious experiences. Anything. It’s like they have no natural resistance at all.

    You have just presented a prime example of the psychological projection of backwards wish-thinking. Scientific atheists have very high resistance to being sold anything until there is evidence that it works in the real world!
    Anyone who designs and builds or buys a bridge based on “it’ll be all right faith-thinking”, rather than engineering calculations is a fool! Likewise anyone who has a quick prayer to evaluate a used car!

    Scientific evidence to replace moral judgement,

    Allegedly “moral judgement” has no basis for competent decision making, unless there is scientific evidence of the effects actions will have in the real world. “Some bronze-age goat-herder said the voices in his head were a god, and thought some notion was a good idea”, is no basis for understanding modern medicine or health!

    obesity to replace gluttony, and illness to become judgement for wayward behaviour.

    Wayward behaviour – gluttony, an unbalanced diet, junk-food, and a lack of exercise causes illness. Are you trying to deny this?

    To remind of the eternal threat of punishment and cancer, diabetes and early death take the place of the final damnation, the Hell that awaits those who eat the wrong foods, those who refuse to get into shape

    Self inflicted suffering, usually does await those who have no regard for maintaining their body’s health. Usually it is only a matter of time for the damage to build up.

    and, most importantly, those who defiantly refuse to listen to the lessons from the experts on high.

    The “experts on high”, (ie. nutritionists and medical researchers. Not “dieticians” or media quack-diet pundits.) have measured the effects of food and exercise on health! Excess consumption of sugar causes diabetes, excess fat causes heart problems, smoking causes cancer. Are you in denial?

    Health advice slowly but surely filling the gap left by the fall of morality,

    Expert medical advice in promoting healthy living is replacing a fall in morality”? What weird thinking!!

    its focus on the body

    Medical treatments usually do, although some work on the mind!

    and its preying on individual fears perfectly

    People have good reason to fear illness and disability, so giving warning is altruistic rather than “preying”. – Again your thinking is backwards on this. It is people encouraging the ignoring of expert advice who are misleading and preying on the gullible who listen to them.

    suited to our era of low expectations and heightened individuation.

    The lowest expectations on the planet come from the deluded world inside the narrow confines of the mirrored interior of the god-did-it head-bucket, which keeps believers looking at circular, dogmatic, introspections, and in denial of the benefits from the wealth of knowledge to be found in exploring the material world around them.



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  • You know, you can sell an atheist anything: bridges, used cars, religious experiences.

    I’m going to print out and frame this post from Harry. It’s probably the best example of an irrational mind, trying to deal with rational subjects. 180 degrees wrong. While this is a generalization, people who don’t believe in things without evidence will probably be the hardest people in the world to scam. Bridges. Used cars. Religious experiences. Resurrections. Virgin Births. Walking on water. Burning bushes that talk. Living for billions and billions of years with Harry’s descendents.

    This post Harry, is a contender for “Own Goal of the Year.”



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  • harry Aug 3, 2014 at 11:18 am

    the Hell that awaits those who eat the wrong foods, those who refuse to get into shape and, most importantly, those who defiantly refuse to listen to the lessons from the experts on high.

    I know – those mean dentists keep telling people that sipping sugary fizz and constantly sucking sweets, rots their teeth.

    its focus on the body and its preying on individual fears

    I’m sure some can show “faith”, eat what they like, and resist “the fear” instilled by this medical advice.

    I mean – it’s not as if they would be punished with the Hell of toothache? Is it???????



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