In 1980, about 1 in 20 U.S. children and teens was overweight. Today, that figure is closer to 1 in 6. Abetting this unhealthy trend appears to be reluctance by physicians to discuss weight with their young patients or parents.
Researchers with the National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Md., analyzed data that had been collected for 1,473 overweight children between 1999 and 2002 as part of a national health survey. The likelihood that a health professional had mentioned a weight problem varied with a child's age and ethnicity, according to a report by Cynthia L. Ogden and Carolyn J. Tabak in the Sept. 2 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Some 52 percent of adolescents ages 16 to 19 were warned about their unhealthy weights, but the rate declined with age. Only 17 percent of families with overweight children under 6 were warned.