Kids’ Weight: Time to See the Light

Parents often don’t recognize that their children are overweight or aren’t concerned about those extra pounds, a new study shows.

Talking About It

Parents were more likely to recognize their child’s weight problem and be concerned about it if a doctor had mentioned it, the study shows. Parents can ask doctors if their child’s weight is keeping pace with growth. Waiting for a doctor to broach the topic isn’t necessary.

Lagging Behind, Lingering ‘Baby Fat’

Parents were more concerned about their kids’ extra pounds if their kids were less active or slower than their peers, the study shows. Evaluating kids’ fitness could help flag the problem.

Will kids outgrow their baby fat? “Unfortunately, in our current environment, I don’t think it’s as high a likelihood as it used to be that they will outgrow it,” says Krebs.
Being overweight is associated with health problems, some of which start in childhood, Krebs says. But not all overweight people have health problems, and slenderness doesn’t guarantee health.

Banish the Guilt

Parents aren’t solely responsible for kids’ weight issues, Krebs notes. “This is a very wide-ranging issue,” she says. “It involves schools; it involves advertising; it involves our communities and how they’re set up … it’s very broad-based,” she says. “It’s not a matter of just what the parents are offering for food.

Many more kids – and adults – are overweight than in the past. About 16% of U.S. kids aged 6-19 years were overweight in 1999-2002, says the CDC. That’s a 45% increase since the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Serving as Role Models

Advice to parents:

  • Start by setting a good example in relationship to foods, physical activity, and leisure-time activity.
  • Play actively with your children and support opportunities for them to be physically active.
  • Cut down on opportunities for sedentary behavior, such as TV time.
  • Celebrate your child’s successes and encourage them in all avenues of their life, not just in relationship to their weight.

By Miranda Hitti, WebMD, March 2006

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