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Almost half of America's obese youth don't know they're obese

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 24, 2014 at 1:01 pm •  Published: July 23, 2014
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(c) 2014, The Washington Post.

The good news is that after decades of furious growth, obesity rates finally seem to be leveling off in the U.S.. The bad news is that America's youth still appear to be dangerously unaware of the problem.

Forty-two percent of obese children and adolescents in the U.S. — those between the ages of 8 and 15 years — misperceive their weight as normal, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. Among obese boys, the rate is almost 48 percent; for obese girls, it's roughly 36 percent. And America's overweight children are even more confused about the relative size of their waistlines — some three quarters of overweight children and teens consider themselves to be "about the right weight."

The prevalence of weight misperception isn't only characteristic of the country's heavier children. About one half of America's underweight children don't know they're underweight, and roughly a third of all kids in the U.S. — overweight, underweight and just-the-right weight — mistake their weight status for something other than it is.

But given the exceptionally high rate of obesity among American adults — which is the highest of any major country in the world — the lack of self-perception found in the country's obese children should be particularly alarming. Nearly a third of kids in the U.S. are considered overweight, according to the Food and Research Action Center, and roughly 35 percent of them now go on to become obese in adulthood.

Obesity is both a national health epidemic — while it is considered a disease itself, it has also been linked to a number of other conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes — and a serious economic problem — as of 2008, the annual medical costs alone of obesity amounted to almost $150 billion, according to the CDC.

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