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Many Overweight Children Don’t See Themselves as Overweight, Study Says

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study Wednesday that shows a good portion of overweight and obese children believe their weight falls within the normal range.

About one-third of children in the United States are overweight or obese, according to U.S. health officials.

  • An estimated 9.1 million young people between 8 and 15 years old do not seem to know if they are at a healthy or unhealthy weight.
  • 42 percent of those classified as obese (48 percent of boys, 36 percent of girls) consider themselves to be the right weight.
  • 76 percent of those classified as overweight believe they are about the right weight.
  • 13 percent of those classified as “healthy weight” considered themselves too thin (9 percent) or too fat (4 percent).

Boys are more likely to misperceive their weight than girls and the disparity is also more prevalent among non-Hispanic, African-American and Mexican-American children.

  • 34 percent of Hispanic children and teens believe they are thinner than they are, as do 34 percent of Black children and 28 percent of white youths.
  • 81 percent of overweight boys and 71 percent of overweight girls think their weight is within the normal range.
  • 31 percent of overweight youths from poorer homes misperceive their weight as normal, compared to 26 percent of youths from richer homes.

The authors of the study note that there are many factors that influence how children and teens view themselves, such as socioeconomic situations, the media and environmental influences.

“When overweight kids underestimate their weight, they are less likely to take steps to reduce their weight or do additional things to control their weight, like adopt healthier eating habits or exercise regularly,” says Dr. Neda Sarafrazi, a nutritional epidemiologist at the National Center for Health Statistics and lead author of the report, to TechTimes.

The study looked at data collected between 2005 and 2012 from more than 6,000 children and teens for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and published in Pediatrics.

S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on Twitter @ReporterandGirl, and visit her website at

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