Parents don't recognize obesity

Children

December 20, 2007

When researchers from the University of Michigan surveyed more than 2,000 parents about their children's health, they heard some good news. Despite the growing obesity problem, many of these parents could report that their sons and daughters, at least, were "about the right weight."

The numbers, alas, told another story. The parents were also asked to provide information about the children's height and weight - and many of the 6- to 11-year-olds turned out to be obese. Yet more than 40 percent of their parents appeared unaware of this.

The findings grew out of the National Poll on Children's Health by the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. The researchers found that overall, 25 percent of the children whose parents were surveyed were overweight or obese.

Among the parents of obese children ages 6 to 11, only 13 percent described their child as very overweight (the percentage was 31 percent for parents whose obese children were 12 to 17).

Matthew M. Davis, a pediatrician and internist who directed the poll, said he and other doctors wondered why parents who brought overweight children in for appointments so often did not seem concerned.

But, Davis said, "If they don't actually perceive their children to have excess weight, then how can we realistically expect them to make changes?"

The New York Times

Blood pressure

Complicating factors like heart disease and diabetes make it harder to lower

It's important for all people to control their blood pressure, but for those with heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes and other conditions that raise the risk of heart complications, it's really important.

About 65 percent of people with hypertension and no complicating conditions who take blood-pressure-lowering medications had the condition controlled to recommended levels, according to a study released online and due for publication in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine. But only one-third to one-half of people with hypertension and complicating conditions reached recommended levels despite drug treatment.

Optimal blood pressure, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, is 120/80. The goal for people who have high blood pressure, after treatment with antihypertensive medications, should be below 140/90; people with diabetes, kidney disease or other heart health-compromising conditions should aim for less than 130/80.

"If you've already had a stroke or have diabetes or kidney disease, the risk of heart attack or another stroke is many times higher," says Nathan Wong, director of the University of California, Irvine Heart Disease Prevention Program and lead author of the study.

Los Angeles Times

Cholesterol

Average level for U.S. adults is in ideal range for first time in almost 50 years

Americans may be too fat, but at least their cholesterol is low. For the first time in nearly 50 years, the average cholesterol level for U.S. adults is in the ideal range, the government reported recently.

Results from a national survey that included blood tests found the total average cholesterol level dropped to 199 last year. Experts consider 200 and lower to be ideal.

The growing use of cholesterol-lowering pills in middle-aged and older people is believed to be a key reason for the improvement, experts said. When the survey began in 1960, the average cholesterol was at 222.

While Americans have gotten much heavier since then, they've been able to lower their cholesterol with powerful drugs that carry few if any side effects. High cholesterol can clog arteries and lead to heart disease.

Associated Press

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