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Obese and overweight women and children may underestimate how heavy they are

March 23, 2011|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times
  • Many overweight and obese women and kids may not have an accurate view of how heavy they are, a study finds.
Many overweight and obese women and kids may not have an accurate view of… (Paul Ellis / AFP/Getty Images )

Women and children who are overweight and obese may have a skewed vision of just how heavy they are, a new study finds, as many underestimated how much they actually weighed.

Researchers surveyed 111 mothers (average age about 39) and 111 children age seven to 13. Among the study participants, about 66% of the mothers were overweight or obese, and about 39% of children were overweight or obese.

Among the women, about 82% who were obese underestimated their weight, and about 43% who were overweight low-balled their weight. But only about 13% of normal weight women underestimated how much they weighed.

Among the children, about 86% who were overweight or obese underestimated their weight, while only 15% of normal weight children did so. About 41% of children thought their mothers could stand to lose a few pounds.

Among mothers who had overweight or obese kids, a little under half (47.5%) thought their child came in at a normal weight.

"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 Dr. Nicole Dumas, lead author of the study, in a news release. Dumas, an internal medicine resident at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, added, "In addition, obesity has become an acceptable norm in some families. Strategies to overcome the obesity epidemic will need to address this barrier to weight loss."

The study was presented this week at the American Heart Assn.'s Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism/Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention 2011 Scientific Sessions in Atlanta.

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