Obesity Study: Overweight Seems Normal

Nearly half of mothers with overweight and obese children think their children’s weight is normal. In fact, overweight and obese women and children underestimate their own body weight, too.

These new facts – presented this week by the American Heart Association – shed some light on the obesity epidemic that’s affecting so many American lives. Two out of three people in the United States are either overweight or obese, according to federal statistics. Obesity increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

“These findings imply that not only is obesity prevalent in urban America, but that those most affected by it are either unaware or underestimate their true weight,” said Nicole E Dumas, M.D., lead author and an internal medicine resident at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City in a press release. “In addition, obesity has become an acceptable norm in some families,” she said. “Strategies to overcome the obesity epidemic will need to address this barrier to weight loss.”

The findings come from a survey of women and their pre-adolescent children who attend an urban, primary care center in New York City, according to the American Heart Association. Researchers determined the participants’ Body Mass Index by measuring their height and weight. A BMI of 25 to 29 is overweight, and a BMI over 30 is obese.

They asked participants how they perceived their body size by using silhouette images of body types that are underweight, normal and overweight. While nearly 82 percent of obese women underestimated their weight, only 13 percent of women whose weight was normal thought they weighed less than they did, according to the study. The results for children were similar. Eighty-six percent of overweight or obese children underestimated their weight compared to 15 percent of normal weight children.

Source: American Heart Association

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