Health Team

Report: N.C. Parents Oblivious To Children's Weight Problems

Posted November 15, 2006

Almost one-third of North Carolina teens are overweight, but most parents don't see any problem with their children's eating habits or physical activity, according to a new report.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina surveyed 1,800 members about their children's health and lifestyle, and officials said Wednesday that the results show a disconnect between reality and perceptions.

  • 29 percent of children in Blue Cross health plans are overweight or at risk of being overweight
  • 59 percent of those children's parents believe their child's weight is "about right"
  • 45 percent of parents said their children don't get the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetable per day
  • 66 percent of parents think their children eat well
  • No parents reported that their children were active for at least 60 minutes every day, as fitness experts recommend

"I think most of us know that the limitation of a self-reported survey is that the results are probably too good. It probably means that the real results are considerably worse", Blue Cross President and Chief Executive Bob Greczyn said in announcing the results at a Preventive Health Summit.

The combined cost for overweight children statewide is about $38 million a year, Greczyn said. On average, each of them will require $200,000 of medical care during his or her lifetime, he said, noting they are at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other health problems.

Blue Cross plans to launch a program in January to promote healthier eating and physical activity among member families. The plan will pay for visits to a nutritionist and personal health coach for both parents and children.

"It is time for all of us to face an uncomfortable truth -- thousands of our children are on course for developing preventable diseases that will lower their quality of life and shorten their lifespan," Greczyn said. "Our challenge is to alert families that there is a problem and help them find the way toward healthier lifestyles."

Other efforts in the state to fight obesity among youths include a campaign called "Eat Smart, Move More," a legislative ban on sugary drink sales in elementary schools and middle schools and a requirement that schools provide at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day.

Read the report at Blue Cross Preventive Health Care Report.

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