Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
May/June Volume 27, Number 3
It is now estimated that a third of American children and teens are overweight, and 10% fall into the obese category. At the American Heart Association meeting in March in Phoenix, a research team reported that children are very likely to adopt at least some of their parents’ bad habits of poor nutrition and lack of exercise. This was one of the findings presented by Dr. Mercedes Carnethon, Associate Professor of preventive medicine-epidemiology at Northwestern University, Chicago, after she and her team evaluated 1500 children from 8 to 16 years of age and 1020 of their adult caregivers. The researchers found that when their caregivers were obese, boys were nearly 7 times more likely to be obese as well, while girls were about 4 times as likely to be obese. The children were also similar to their caregivers in terms of body fat, blood pressure levels and cholesterol levels. When one of the parents had at least one cardiovascular risk factor, children in their home were twice as likely to also have a heart disease risk factor when compared with their peers with healthier caregivers. The study’s results pointed to the need for having more nutrition education programs that target families, especially those with metabolic risk factors.