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Pediatricians can help parents recognize overweight preschoolers
Date:6/15/2010

Tampa, FL (June 15, 2010) -- Parents are more likely to underestimate their preschool children's weight when pediatricians do not tell them their children are overweight or gaining weight too fast, a study by the University of South Florida and Johns Hopkins University reports.

The study, published online earlier this month in Clinical Pediatrics, suggests pediatricians should not hesitate to wield their influence in helping parents identify overweight children. These children are at risk of developing serious and costly health problems once reserved for adults, like Type II diabetes and heart disease.

"When it comes to younger children, pediatricians tend to shy away from discussing and making recommendations about weight," said lead author Raquel Hernandez, MD, MPH, assistant professor of pediatrics at USF Health.

"That's unfortunate, because even a child as young as 2 years old with a body mass index indicative of obesity is at high risk of becoming an obese adult," said Dr. Hernandez, who initiated the study while she was a fellow in general academic pediatrics at Johns Hopkins. "As much as we'd like to think that chubby, smiling toddler will outgrow the excess weight, it's just not likely to happen with today's overabundance of food and societal influences toward heavier size."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using body mass index (BMI), an indicator of body fatness calculated from height and weight, to screen for overweight and obesity in children, beginning at age 2.

Children are considered overweight if they fall in the 85th to 94th percentiles of the BMI growth charts, and deemed obese if they are in the 95th percentile or higher.

This USF-Johns Hopkins study was the first to look at parents' perception of an ideal or healthy-weigh image in preschoolers children ages 2 to 5. From July 2008 to April 2009, the researchers interviewed 150 parents of preschoolers during we
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Contact: Anne DeLotto Baier
abaier@health.usf.edu
813-974-3300
University of South Florida (USF Health)
Source:Eurekalert  

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