Using data from a national online survey conducted in July and August in collaboration with Knowledge Networks Inc., the National Poll on Children's Health sought to learn more about not only parent-reported weight and height, but also parental perception and concerns about their children's weight.
The survey was administered to a random sample of 2,060 adults, ages 18 and older, who are a part of Knowledge Network's online KnowledgePanelSM. The sample was subsequently weighted to reflect U.S. population figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. About two-thirds of the sample were parents.
Results show that only 7 percent of parents with obese children ages 6 to 11 are very concerned about their children's weight. In comparison, 46 percent of parents with obese children ages 12 to 17 say they are very concerned.
Across the country, parents' concern about their children's weight also varied by region. Only 13 percent of parents living in the Midwest were very concerned about their obese children's weight, while 37 percent of those living in the Northeast were very concerned. Nearly half of all parents in the Midwest and West reported they are either not at all concerned, or not too concerned about their obese children's weight, according to the National Poll on Children's Health.
Parents' lack of concern about their children's weight can have serious health implications. According to poll results, obese children are more than twice as likely as healthy weight children to have asthma. Plus, Davis says, parents who do not recognize obesity or are not worried about their children's weight may not take the appropriate steps to help their children lead a healthier lifestyle.
It also could have serious implications on the health of a community. "Without parents' help, school and community efforts to mitigate the childhood obesity epidemic may have limited success as well," says Davis, associate professor of general pediatrics and internal medicine at the U-M Medical School, and associate professor of public policy at the U-M Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.
Fortunately, health care providers can play an important role in helping parents to recognize obesity, and take steps to modify a child's diet and activity levels. The National Poll on Children's Health found that 84 percent of parents believe it is very important for doctors to address obesity with obese adolescents during routine check-ups. "Parents willingness to discuss obesity at their children's medical appointments indicates that many parents view doctors as a welcome source of information about obesity interventions for children," says Davis.
Report highlightsOne-quarter of U.S. children ages 6 to 17 are either obese or overweight, based on parents; report of their children's height and weight.
Less than 10 percent of parents of obese children ages 6 to 11 are very concerned about their children's weight.
More than 40 percent of parents with obese children ages 6 to 11 perceive their children's weight status as "about the right weight."
Obese children are more than twice as likely to have asthma as healthy weight children.
For the complete report, visit the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health at www.chear.umich.edu.
About the National Poll on Children's Health The C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health is funded by the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases at the U-M Health System. As part of the U-M Division of General Pediatrics CHEAR Unit, the National Poll on Children's Health is designed to measure major health care issues and trends for U.S. children. For a copy of the reports from the National Poll on Children's Health, visit www.chear.umich.edu. For regular podcasts of polling results, go to www.med.umich.edu/mott/research/chearnpch.html.