All In The Family: The Struggle To Keep Our Children Lean And Healthy

Many parents do not identify their child as “overweight,” but will select a sketch of a heavier model when asked to choose one representative of their child, new study findings show.

“Comparisons between images and sketches showed that parents’ visual perceptions of their children more clearly reflect their child’s physical appearance than words they might use to classify the child’s weight,” study author Dr. Helen J. Binns, of Northwestern University in Chicago told Reuters Health.

“So parents have a correct visual perception, but don’t consider that to fit in the medical diagnostic categories,” she added.

Previous studies have found that helping parents recognize their child’s overweight status and their willingness to make the necessary behavioral changes is key to their child’s treatment. Parents who fail to recognize that their child needs help may not be ready to receive any related counseling or other interventions, researchers say.

Yet, various reports show that many mothers – especially those with young children – do not consider their overly chubby children to be overweight, with some wrongly believing that their child is “about the right weight.”

In the current study, Binns and her team examined parents’ perceptions about their child’s overweight status and investigated whether sketches may be useful in helping parents recognize their child’s problem.
Of the 223 children studied, 20 percent were overweight and 19 percent were at risk for becoming overweight. Over half (60 percent) of the 2- to 17-year-old study participants were under 6 years old.

Similar to previous studies, the researchers found that many parents failed to recognize that their child was overweight. Only about one third (36 percent) of parents correctly identified their child as overweight or at risk for becoming overweight.

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Comment From Jon:
There is really no other way to say this than to spit it out — our bad habits are killing our kids. I know that sounds “bleak”, perhaps too blunt, but I shoot from the hip…and this is the absolute truth.

One of the reasons I created “Scale The World” was to address this very issue. The people of our generations — 40s and up — are the ones who simply must act now in order to prevent this healthcare crisis.

One in four children are now overweight. One in four will develop diabetes in their lifetime, and one in six before they reach the age of 30. American children top the scales as the most overweight, increasing over 400% in less than 30 years.

These kids are not learning to eat on their own. They’re learning to eat by watching us.

Far be it from me to give parenting advice, but common sense would suggest that we, as moms, dads and grandparents, should set a table that our kids can learn from.

One of the greatest blessings for me was to see how many role models in Fit Over 40 were able to balance their parenthood (and grand-parenthood) with healthy nutrition. Their children reflect it as well — they are fit, healthy, and happy. My friend and Fit Over 40 role model Spice Williams has a child who was born diabetic — he didn’t “become” diabetic through poor nutrition but rather through a non-functional pancreas.

Through sound nutrition and exercise, this young lad has the energy of ten kids, the physique of a future hall-of-famer, and the disposition of a saint! He’s also a heck of a martial artist. (Hey Spice, he’s a cool one!)
Let’s set our tables with our future in mind — starting today.

Jon Benson
Creator/Co-Author of Fit Over 40: Role Models For Excellence At Any Age

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