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Article of Interest - Obesity

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Bridges4Kids LogoParents 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 physical exams.

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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