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Parents need to realize ‘normal’ may be overweight

When something happens to a child, it is easy to point fingers and blame the parents. It is easy to assume that a parent of a problematic child — or more recently an obese one — is in denial. However, according to Reuters, obese children have become such a norm that parents literally have nothing else to compare their own offspring to, so they assume their children are “normal.” It would appear that adult society is so caught up in its own weight loss that it has overlooked the very people on whom the future depends.

The Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth, England conducted a study involving 300 7-year-olds and their parents, according to Reuters. One-third of the parents involved in the study who were overweight described themselves as “about right,” and one-quarter of them could identify that their child was overweight, but not obese.

According to MSNBC Online, 15 percent of children between the ages of six and 19 and 10 percent of children between the ages of two and five are considered dangerously overweight. A person is considered overweight if their body mass index is 25 or above, and considered obese if their index exceeds 30, according to WebMD.

The doctors of the Peninsula study also found that 40 percent of the parents of the obese children were unaware of a problem.

“We are all used to seeing people who are bigger than they used to be 20 years ago and we just see people who are overweight as normal,” Allison Jeffrey, a research team member for the study told Reuters.

MSNBC also reported that 300,000 deaths a year are associated with obesity worldwide. Overweight people are also at risk of diabetes, heart disease and some cancers — especially when the problem starts early in life.

It is regrettable that overweight persons — children at that — have become such a normal occurrence that society can turn its head. It should be apparent that it is vital for the health of our children — as well as our society — that parents intervene and encourage good nutrition and exercise to countermand the trend.