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Parents Don't Even Recognize Their Children are Obese

A new study led by University of Michigan researchers found that when it comes to their kid's weight, many parents don't want to admit there's a problem.

children exercise

Your kids will thank you later for getting them started on a healthy lifestyle today.

After surveying over 2,000 adults and taking height and weight measurements of their children, the study found that among parents with an obese or extremely overweight child between the ages of 6 and 11:

  • 43 percent said their child was "about the right weight"

  • 37 percent believed the child was "slightly overweight"

  • 13 percent said "very overweight"

  • A smaller percentage said the child was "slightly underweight"

"It suggests to me that parents of younger kids believe that their children will grow out of their obesity, or something will change at older ages," said Dr. Matthew M. Davis, a professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at University of Michigan, who led the study.

In reality, however, obesity predisposes children to a number of health risks, including:

  • Diabetes

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

  • A greater likelihood of being overweight as an adult

Encouraging Your Child to Eat Healthy and Stay Active

About half of the time a child is obese, one or both of the parents is also overweight, so it's important that, as a parent, you commit to a healthier lifestyle along with your child.

Playing actively with your kids

Playing actively with your kids is a great way for the whole family to get some exercise!

According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, a child who is obese between the ages of 10 and 13 has an 80 percent chance of becoming an obese adult, but you can help to change this in your child.

Kids gain weight for many of the same reasons that adults do, and often this is tied to eating too many unhealthy foods and not staying active enough. Stressful life events, such as divorce, a move, or a death in the family can also contribute.

As a family, you can make the changes that will help your child to gradually lose weight, but keep this in mind:

Quick, Healthy Meals for Your Family!

Alive in 5: Raw Gourmet Meals in Five Minutes

Alive in 5: Raw Gourmet Meals in Five Minutes is an excellent kitchen companion for anyone who wants to prepare healthy meals from fresh, raw foods in just minutes a day.

  • You should be supportive, not critical of your child.

  • You should be a positive role model (and not expect your child to give up junk food and soda if you won't).

  • You should make changes slowly.

Next, begin to gradually implement the following changes. They may seem small, but they will add up over time.

  1. Eat meals together as a family

  2. Decrease the time your child watches TV and plays video games or spends at the computer

  3. Avoid using food as a reward

  4. Use healthy foods as snacks

  5. Encourage your child to do active things like going for walks, walking the dog, washing the car, playing sports or tag with friends, etc.

  6. Limit fast food meals

  7. Include more nutritious meals in your family's daily diet (try the recipes in Alive in 5: Raw Gourmet Meals in Five Minutes for some delicious (and fast!) ideas)

  8. Eliminate sweetened drinks like soda from your house

  9. Plan your meals for the week so you don't end up going for take-out at the last minute

  10. Pack a healthy lunch for your child to take to school

Finally, be sure that you reward your child's progress, not just in their weight loss but also in their changes toward leading a healthier lifestyle. Every time your family meets a new goal, go for a fun outing, such as ice-skating or to a museum. Soon you will find that your new lifestyle becomes your routine, and your children will have you to thank for their healthy future!

Recommended Reading

Strong Obesity and Cancer Link Now Absolutely Confirmed

The Hidden Burdens of Obesity: Greater Sensitivity to Pain, More Prone to Fatal Auto Crashes & More

Sources December 26, 2007

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

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