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Many Obese Moms and Kids Underestimate Their Weight
Date:3/23/2011

ing heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Widespread misperceptions about body size may represent another challenge in the war against obesity, the study authors say.

The study, to be presented Wednesday at the American Heart Association's scientific sessions in Atlanta, found that:

  • 82 percent of obese mothers and 43 percent of overweight mothers underestimated their weight.
  • 86 percent of overweight or obese children underestimated their weight, while only 15 percent of normal-sized kids did.
  • 48 percent of mothers of obese or overweight children thought their children's weight was normal.
  • 13 percent of normal-weight mothers underestimated their weight.

Nearly 80 percent of the participants were Hispanic; about 10 percent were black; 6 percent were white; and 2 percent were Asian, with the remainder identifying themselves as "other."

About 66 percent of the moms were obese or overweight, which is reflective of the general U.S. population, Dumas said.

But the study children's rate of overweight or obesity, at 39 percent, was higher than for American children in general, at 33 percent, she noted.

The study data show the need for health-care providers to educate patients about the dangers of excess body weight, said Lichtenstein, who also is the director and senior scientist of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts.

Schools should teach home economics "with a 21st century approach," she said, so children learn how "to choose and provide foods that are going to result in a healthy body weight."

The Columbia research echoed the findings of a September 2010 Harris Interactive/HealthDay survey that found that 30 percent of overweight people thought their weight was normal, while 70 percent of those who were obese thought they were merely overweight. Most thought that lack of exercise, rather than poor ea
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