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Bullying Top Concern of Parents With Overweight Child

They view intimidation as even greater problem than obesity itself, study says

THURSDAY, Sept. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Bullying is the top "health" concern among parents with overweight and obese children, according to a new report.

Parents of these children, aged 6 to 13, also are much more likely than parents of children at a healthy weight to call bullying a top health issue for kids, according to a report released Monday by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

"We found that parents with overweight or obese children actually view bullying as a greater problem than childhood obesity," Dr. Matthew M. Davis, director of the National Poll on Children's Health, said in a university news release. "Since bullying is known to be a problem for children with increased weight, bullying prevention programs will need to be mindful of obesity as a potential trigger for bullying behavior and of parents concerns surrounding this issue."

Overall, parents don't take childhood obesity lightly, ranking it No. 1 is among health concern for kids in the National Poll on Children's Health. Still, only two-thirds of parents actually enforce such limits with their children on junk food and time spent in front of a TV or computer screen, the poll found. Still, many parents are talking with their children about having healthier diets and increasing their physical activity, which Davis said is an important first step in setting the stage for a healthier lifestyle.

Nearly two in five of the families polled included one or more overweight or obese child between the ages of 6 and 13. The poll also showed that children who were obese or overweight were almost twice as likely to have an obese parent as healthy weight children.

"In many families, obesity is a two-generation phenomenon among parents and their children. This trend could be the result of genetics or behaviors such as eating habits and physical activity that are shared among parents and their children," said Davis, an associate professor of general pediatrics and internal medicine at the U-M Medical School.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about obesity and children.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, Sept. 8, 2008

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