Don't See Obesity in Kids: Heavy Children Seen as 'About Right'
by Cassandra Spratling, Detroit Free Press, June 5, 2004
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A study released
Friday by the American Diabetes Association found that most
parents don't recognize obesity in their children.
The study was one of two released at the association's 64th
annual meeting in Orlando. Although that study looked at British
children, at least one Michigan pediatrician said the same is
true in the United States.
"We certainly have met many families who are not concerned about
the weight of their children," said Dr. Randy P. Prescilla, a
pediatrician at Children's Hospital of Michigan and assistant
professor of pediatrics at Wayne State University.
The study involved 300 children and their families, randomly
selected over the last four years. In it, one-third of the obese
girls and one-half of the obese boys were rated "about right" by
their parents in terms of weight.
The other study based on a sampling of eighth-graders in Texas,
North Carolina and California found that almost half -- 49.3
percent -- weigh more than suggested for their age and gender.
Furthermore, 40.2 percent had pre-diabetes, a condition in which
blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough
for a diagnosis of diabetes.
Children are at high risk for diabetes and other serious health
problems, largely due to being overweight.
Both studies offer further evidence that children need to
increase their physical activity and improve their diets, which
are often loaded with too much sugar and fat, said Prescilla and
Christine Bowen, a dietitian at Children's Hospital of Michigan.
Prescilla suggested that parents monitor their children's weight
and request an evaluation of their weight during regular
Doctors suggest that parents who want to determine whether their
children are overweight should consider the following factors:
Is the child heavier compared to classmates?
Is there a presence of darkening of skin around the neck (acanthosis
nigricans), which is suggestive of insulin resistance?
Is the child short of breath after climbing stairs or after a
short bout of physical activity?
Is the child having sleep problems due to loud snoring and
breathing problems at night?
Is the child having back and/or lower extremity joint problems?
Does the child show signs of depression due to low self-esteem
and other behavioral problems?
More than 18 million Americans have diabetes, a group of serious
diseases characterized by high blood sugar levels that result
from defects in the body's ability to produce and/or use
insulin. Diabetes can lead to severely debilitating or fatal
complications, such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease
and amputations. It is the fifth leading cause of death by
disease in the United States.
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