The British Medical Research Council (MRC) has claimed that even parents who understand the importance of diet and exercise still have trouble recognizing when their own children are obese. In response, the British government has launched a plan to help educate parents on ways to implement healthier lifestyles.
• Researchers from the MRC's Human Nutrition Research unit found that people have a poor ability to recognize when they are overweight, and are even worse at determining obesity in their children.
• This was only one of the factors preventing families from adopting healthier lifestyles. Others included irregular working hours, busy lives, the belief that healthy living is too difficult or complicated, and fears about letting children play outdoors.
• All of these factors led to unhealthy behaviors. One example given by the MRC is that average meal preparation time has dropped from two hours to only 20 minutes in the last 20 years.
• Another example cited was that more than 40 percent of children over age 6 are regularly choosing their own evening meals, despite the fact that they lack the capacity to make the right choices.
• In response to the MRC study, the British government has launched a Healthy Living Programme, with the goal of providing information for parents on how to implement healthy lifestyles.
• Quote: "We're not short of information but the information hasn't always been leading to behavior change. [The Healthy Living Programme] is where the theory becomes reality -- something that is really meaningful for people." - UK Public Health Minister Caroline Flint
• The ability to recognize the overweight status of one's own children is also severely lacking in the United States. The vast majority of parents who have obese children fail to recognize them as such.
• Obesity is so rampant in America that overweight people are now common. Thus, to many, they appear "normal." People who appear thin and fit are often mistaken for being diseased.