How deep can we get our heads underground?

Here’s a study* that makes me want to cry:

Objective: To examine time trends in parental reports of health professional notification of childhood overweight over the last decade and to determine the characteristics most associated with such notification.

Design: Secondary data analysis using 2 tests to examine the relationships between multiple factors on the reports of parents and/or caregivers (hereinafter “parents”) and logistic regression for multivariate analysis.

Setting: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999 through 2008.

Participants: Parents of 4985 children aged 2 to 15 years with body mass index (BMI) in the 85th percentile or higher based on measured height and weight.

Main Outcome Measures: Affirmative answer to the following question: “Has a doctor or health professional ever told you that your child is overweight?”

This study couldn’t be simpler. The parents of nearly 5000 children who were over the 85th percentile for BMI were asked if they had been told their child was overweight (they were). Know how many said yes? 22%.

Only 22%! There are times I despair. Only about one in five parents whose child was overweight reported that they had been told so by their physician. I don’t know whether this is because their doctors actually didn’t tell them, or because they didn’t hear. Either way, it’s depressing. There is a serious obesity problem in the US, and we’re having trouble even admitting it exists.


*Full disclosure: I know the authors quite well, and would call them friends.

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