TIME Nutrition

Most Parents of Obese Children Think Their Kids Are ‘Just Right’

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Because they're compared to their peers, not to medical standards

Parents of obese kids often don’t recognize that their kids are overweight, and the vast majority think their obese children are “just right,” according to a new study.

Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center studied two groups of young children: a group of 3,839 kids from 1988-1994, and another group of 3,151 kids from 2007-2012, and published the findings in the journal Childhood Obesity. Similar findings were reported last year in the journal Pediatrics.

The NYU researchers found that even if their kids were overweight or obese, the vast majority of parents were likely to see no problem with their child’s weight. In the earlier group, 97% of parents of overweight boys and 88% of parents of overweight girls said their kids were “about the right weight.” In the more recent group, 95% of parents of overweight boys and 93% of parents of overweight girls thought so, too. The children in the later group were significantly more obese than the kids in the earlier group, but their parents were just as likely to see them as healthy.

In both groups, misperception about overweight kids being “just about the right weight” was most common among African-American and low-income parents, and the misperception decreased as family income rose. Researchers said this may be because lower-income parents are comparing their kids to their peers, who are also more likely to be overweight, rather than to medical standards.

Researchers warned that the lack of awareness of childhood obesity could contribute to the problem, because if parents don’t recognize that their children are overweight, then they won’t be able to help their kids.

TIME Family

These Are the 8 Most Challenging Moments for Single Parents

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xoJane.com is where women go to be their unabashed selves, and where their unabashed selves are applauded

I need someone else to confirm to the 3-year-old that no, he cannot wear a bathing suit to daycare in December

xojane

Most everyone would agree that single parenting is a hard gig. Not only is there an emotional aspect to it, but the workload is intense!

As a single mother of two young children with no family support, I can tell you that, aside from all the joy that comes with parenting, it’s easy to become overworked, exhausted, and annoyed. Yes, annoyed. Sometimes being a single parent has nothing to do with the larger struggles of life, sometimes being a single parent is simply just annoying.

#1 There Is No One Else To Blame

Oops. Little Johnny just uttered a swear word. Well I can tell you that he heard that word from… well, I guess there is just me. And it must have been me that told him it was okay to eat off the floor in our house, or that we can sometimes eat cake for breakfast, or me that he heard those song lyrics from. Yep… I’d like to not have to claim all of that, but there’s no one else here.

#2 Go Ask Your… Oh Wait, Never Mind

Send backup. I repeat, send backup because I need someone else to confirm to the 3-year-old that no, he cannot wear a bathing suit to daycare in December.

I mean, I know that he can’t wear that, but he seems convinced that he has just as much insight into the world as I do and I would like a sidekick that reminds him that he is three.

I would like this in the same way that I would like someone else to back me up when I tell him that he needs to stay in bed. The problem with being the only one here is that he and I get into power struggles. There’s not another adult to confirm his 3-year-old status, which is annoying.

I need some reinforcement and yet the only other person here is his short, tiny, sister and she often does not side with me either. Not to mention that everything that they don’t like is my fault.

I get to be the “eat your vegetables, take a bath, clean your room” person all the time. All. The. Time. Sometimes I just want to pass off the “in charge” hat, but nope, it’s just me!

#3 Being Needed In Two Places At Once

It was 2:30 a.m., my son was feverish, my daughter was sleeping, and we had just run out of Tylenol. What were my choices: leave one kid burning up or put them both in the car in the middle of the night and go shopping? This sucks! Just like it sucks when I have no choice but to drop everything I’m doing at work to pick up a sick child or bring a forgotten item.

And some of these situations are even less important, but still just as annoying — like the time both of my children were participating in a Halloween parade at their respective school/daycare and they were both at 3 p.m. Hum, which child do I love more?

Now I know I’m certainly not the only parent (single or otherwise) struggling to manage things like this, but it’s the constant need to have to make other arrangements to accommodate the “I can’t be in two places at once” scenario and never having a “go-to” partner to fill in that starts to wear on you.

#4 Dating

Do I even need to elaborate on this? There is nothing more annoying than trying to date as a single parent. Not only is there the whole “When do I introduce him/her to my kids? Are they worthy of meeting my kids? Will they like my kids? Do they like kids so much that I should be concerned?” and so on and so forth.

Not to mention the small fortune that I invest in our babysitters (or all the favors that I owe my friends) so that we can even go on a date. Or all the dates I’ve have to cancel because one of my children has had a sudden onset of some childhood issue and vomited/spiked a fever/developed an attachment disorder as I was ready to walk out the door. (Or like the time I learned my daughter had lice a couple hours before a date. “Hi, I can’t come… we are hair farming tonight. Is next week cool with you?”).

Yup, dating as a single parent is fun. Or not. I’m gonna go with “not.”

#5 Group Errands

I had just pulled in my driveway after a marathon shopping trip on a Saturday. My infant and toddler were half asleep in their car seats, I was exhausted, but victory was mine because the job had gotten done!

Victory was mine for all of about 10 minutes until I went to put the groceries away and realized that I had forgotten the key item that had spurred the trip. I would have loved nothing more than to be able to ask the children’s father to pick up the thing I needed so that I didn’t have to drag two children back to the store with me, but nope, it’s just me! How annoying is that?

And it’s not just limited to forgotten items, it’s the group doctor visits, group haircuts, group everything! There is nothing that says “annoyance” like bundling up the children to go sit at the DMV for a couple hours.

#6 The Grunt Work

Parenting is not a pretty job. There are dirty diapers, stomach viruses, wiggly teeth, dinnertime disasters, bloody scrapes, and scary injuries. When you are a single mom you don’t get to pass off a task that is too much for you to stomach.

Me? I can deal with the ridiculous amount of fluids that my children seem to excrete, but show me a wiggly tooth and you are going to need to catch me as I faint because I just cannot handle the creep factor of moveable teeth.

You know what else I can’t handle? Foreign objects stuck in places they are not supposed to be stuck, like the time my daughter got a baby carrot lodged in her nose and the pediatrician advised me to “suck it out with your mouth.” Give me a break here. That was a task I would have loved to pass to her father.

#7 Complaining Friends

I should have a checklist of “things I wish you would not talk to me about,” because I swear I would be a better friend if my friends didn’t complain about certain things to me. Now I love my friends, all of them, but there are some things they say that just annoy the heck out of me.

Please don’t complain to me if your husband gets your kids all riled up when he comes home from work — just be happy that they have a father. Also, don’t complain to me when he works late (therefore bringing home money for your family) or when your vacation plans are stressing you out (because in my financially strapped state I can barely afford a trip to Walmart).

Don’t complain to me that little Robby was clinging to you all day because my son is being raised in a daycare and I would love him to have the opportunity to bond to me like that. Certainly don’t complain to me that you are exhausted from spending the day at the zoo, because I spent the day at work, the place your husband went for you.

So yes, this probably makes me a horrible friend, but sometimes my friends’ complaints do nothing but annoy me.

#8 I Just Want To Sleep In

This probably shouldn’t be a category all on its own, but I’m adding this last one in because this is my personal annoyance: I just want one day where I get to sleep in and someone else makes sure my (young) children don’t light the house on fire or go running down the street in their underwear. Is that too much to ask?

So single parenting — it’s totally worth it on a million different levels and I could go on and on about how blessed I am, but this article isn’t about that. It’s about the fact that there are moments that are simply just annoying. Really freaking annoying.

Eden Strong wrote this article for xoJane.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Research

Parents May Pass On Sleepwalking to Their Kids

Somnambulant parents likely to have kids who walk in their sleep too

Kids are more likely to sleepwalk if their parents also did, a new study suggests.

The new research, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, found that over 60% of kids who developed somnambulism had parents who were both sleepwalkers.

The study authors looked at sleep data for 1,940 kids whose history of sleepwalking and sleep terrors (episodes of screaming and fear while falling asleep) as well as their parents sleepwalking were reported through questionnaires.

The data showed that kids were three times more likely to become a sleepwalker if they had one parent who was, and seven times more likely to sleep walk if both parents had a history of it. The prevalence of sleepwalking was 61.5% for kids with dual parent sleepwalking history.

The overall prevalence of sleepwalking in childhood reported among kids ages 2.5 to 13 years old was 29.1%, while the overall prevalence of sleep terrors for kids between age 1.5 to 13 was 56.2%. Kids who had sleep terrors were more likely to also develop sleepwalking, compared to kids who did not have them.

“These findings point to a strong genetic influence on sleepwalking and, to a lesser degree, sleep terrors,” the study authors write. “This effect may occur through polymorphisms in the genes involved in slow-wave sleep generation or sleep depth. Parents who have been sleepwalkers in the past, particularly in cases where both parents have been sleepwalkers, can expect their children to sleepwalk and thus should prepare adequately.”

TIME Family

See This Dad’s Powerful Response to Principal over His Kids’ Absence from School

His children were going to support him at the Boston Marathon

Pennsylvania dad Mike Rossi had been planning for years to run the Boston Marathon and bring along his family to see him make it to the finish line.

“It was an important moment for our family,” Rossi tells PEOPLE about his decision to run this years’ grueling race. It was about teaching his kids about “accomplishing a goal and the value of hard work and dedication.”

Before the 26-mile race, his wife emailed teachers letting them know that their two third graders would be out of school for three days.

“They knew for months we were going,” says Rossi. “My wife emailed them and told them they would be out and why they wouldn’t be there. We were truthful: ‘Their father is going to run the Boston Marathon.’ ”

However, when they returned, Rossi got a letter, dated April 22, from Rochelle Marbury, the principal of Rydal Elementary School, saying the time off the children took had been officially marked as “unexcused.”

The letter also warned Rossi that, “an accumulation of unexcused absences can result in a referral to our attendance officer and a subsequent notice of a violation of the compulsory school attendance law.”

“It struck me as nasty,” says Rossi. “Getting the letter rubbed us the wrong way and I reacted.”

Rossi posted the letter on his personal Facebook page along with his own critical response. The letter and his response quickly went viral and Rossi has since become the father of the moment, viewed by many as fighting back against the zero-tolerance policy of the school district that is thought to be outdated and nonsensical.

In his response, Rossi argued that in the three days his children missed school they not only learned about “dedication, commitment, love, perseverance, overcoming adversity, civic pride, patriotism, American history, culinary arts and physical education” but “watched their father overcome injury, bad weather, the death of a loved one and many other obstacles to achieve an important personal goal.”

“While I appreciate your concern for our children’s education, I can promise you they learned as much in the five days we were in Boston as they would in an entire year in school,” he wrote.

While in Boston, Rossi wrote that they walked the Freedom Trail, visited the site of the Boston Tea Party, the Boston Massacre, and visited the graves of several signers of the Declaration of Independence.

“It was a life-teaching moment they will never forget,” he says. “It was teaching them lessons about life. It was one of those moments. In 25 years, they will remember being with dad at the Boston Marathon.”

In a letter posted on the Abington School District website, school board president Raymond McGarry wrote about his support for principal Marbury and their district policy.

“It’s up to an individual family to decide whether a particular trip is worth taking their children out of school,” he said. “And when that happens, it’s the school district’s obligation to let the parents know what the law and policies are – and what the potential consequences are if the policies are abused.”

Since his post went viral, Rossi says he met up with school officials to discuss the policy Wednesday.

“It was a good meeting,” says Rossi. “It was productive. They are obviously not thrilled how this has taken off and the light it has cast them in. It was not my intention. It is this policy I don’t agree with. It is one of those ‘zero-tolerance policies so no one has to make a decision’ policies.”

Rossi says he has no regrets about posting his response but says he feels badly about the viral attacks directed towards the principal.

“The principal unfortunately has become the bad guy and has taken a lot of heat and personal attacks and I feel really badly about that,” he says. “I didn’t intend that to happen. My letter was not personal. I have got some personal attacks myself. It should not be me against the principal. I had a disagreement with the policy and let’s have some good dialogue about it.”

“I feel strongly as a parent that we have the right to be able to take our kids on a trip like that or any other trip,” he adds. “I was just trying to say how important this trip was.”

This article originally appeared on People.com.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

The Trouble With Foods Kids See Advertised on TV

TIME.com stock photos Food Snacks Chips Cheetos
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

More than half the foods advertised to kids do not meet federal nutrition guidelines

A new study shows that 53% of food products approved for advertising on TV programs that cater to kids do not meet U.S. recommended government nutrition guidelines.

Kids see 10 to 13 food-related TV ads every day, says the study published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, and about half of those ads air during programs that specifically cater to children. The researchers looked at two sets of nutritional guidelines designed specifically to recommend whether a food should appear in a commercial aired during kids’ programming: one set is from a food-and-beverage industry group called the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), and the other is from a government group that represents the Federal Trade Commission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, called the Interagency Working Group (IWG).

The study authors looked at the 407 foods approved by the CFBAI to see how they matched up to the recommendations from the IWG. More than half of the foods fell short of the IWG standards, they found.

The researchers evaluated the foods based on the IWG’s “nutrients to limit” list, which includes caps for things like saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and sodium. They found that 32% of the CFBAI-approved foods were above the suggested limit for sugar, 23% were above the limit for saturated fat and 15% were over for sodium. Fewer than 1% were over the limit for trans fat.

These are the foods that appeared most often on television commercials, they concluded. “Companies manufacture food and beverage products that meet IWG recommendations; however, these are not the products most heavily marketed to children,” the study reads. “Evidence shows that 96% of food and beverage product advertisements (excluding those for restaurants) seen by children on children’s television programs were for products high in nutrients to limit.”

“A viable solution to this would be for companies to choose to advertise food and beverage products on children’s programming from the 47% of products from their approved list that do meet the IWG recommendations,” says study author Rebecca Schermbeck, a research specialist at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Until then, the study suggests, kids who watch TV are probably still seeing ads for foods that don’t square with recommended national nutritional guidelines.

TIME Innovation

Save the Planet With More Energy, Not Less

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. What if to save the Earth, we need more energy and development, not less?

By Eric Holthaus in Slate

2. No big deal: Kids can now send their science experiments into space.

By Charley Locke in EdSurge

3. We basically know how to end — or at least stop the growth of — homelessness.

By Tim Henderson in Stateline

4. Soon, you could 3D-print your dinner.

By Heidi Ledford in Nature

5. Is this the technology that will finally give us flying cars?

By David Morris in Fortune

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Infectious Disease

Researchers Link Virus to Mysterious Paralysis in Children

Study finds more evidence linking enterovirus D68 to mysterious paralysis in kids

From last summer to this March, 115 children in 34 states suddenly developed sudden unexplained paralysis—called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM)—that has kept medical experts scratching their heads about what could be causing it. But in new research published on Monday from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), researchers suggest a specific strain of a common virus could be contributing.

MORE: Parents Hunt for Answers on Kids’ Mysterious Paralysis

Scientists and doctors have long thought that an enterovirus called EV-D68 somehow played a role in the clusters of kids who became partially paralyzed, since the emergence of their symptoms happened at the same time U.S. emergency rooms experienced an unprecedented wave of children coming in with severe EV-D68. But in children who’ve been tested for the virus, it’s very rarely been found in their spinal fluid—the location doctors expect to find it if it’s responsible for paralysis.

The other problem is that enteroviruses are incredibly common, so discovering the virus in children is by no means an anomaly. That makes it difficult to pin the paralysis problem on EV-D68. But now, UCSF scientists have discovered more evidence to link the two. In their study, published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases, the researchers analyze 25 cases of sudden unexplained paralysis from recent clusters of children. Through nasal swabs, the researchers were able to identify EV-D68 in 12 of those children and found that all of the cases testing positive for the virus were related to a strain called B1, which emerged four years ago with mutations similar to those seen in the polio virus. Even though some of the children in the study were from Colorado and others were from California, they shared the same B1 strain of the virus.

The researchers also discovered this specific strain in the blood of one of the children who developed AFM for the first time. The child was sampled much earlier than the others, though, and researchers think the late timing of testing may have been the reason they didn’t detect the virus in the blood or spinal fluid of most of the children. Even though the researchers couldn’t identify EV-D68 in the children’s spinal fluid, they say they’re not ruling it out, since they also couldn’t find any other infections.

Notably, the researchers also studied the virus in a pair of siblings. One sibling developed AFM, but the other remained normal after symptoms of the respiratory disease went away. This suggests that the reactions to the virus could be genetic, the researchers say.

“The question is, is this coincidental or [are the two] really associated? I think it’s more than a coincidence,” says study author Dr. Charles Chiu, director of UCSF-Abbott Viral Diagnostics and Discovery Center. “I think our study answers some of those questions.”

The researchers also sequenced the genome of EV-D68 in six children with AFM and two children without it. They hope that analyzing the virus can help inform future research.

“What’s needed at this point is fundamental biology,” says Chiu. He and his team plan to infect the cells of sibling pairs, where one child got AFM and the other did not, to see if their cells respond differently. Any differences the researchers discover may lead to more knowledge about the underlying causes of the disorder, they say.

TIME Crime

California Woman Arrested for Trying to Steal Two Babies, Leading to One Death

Shooting Baby Death
Scott Varley—AP Long Beach police chief Robert Luna, left, and Mayor Robert Garcia stand during a news conference in Long Beach, Calif., on March 25, 2015

Giseleangelique Rene D'Milian wanted to convince her boyfriend that he was the children's father

In a crime that authorities could only describe as “evil,” a 47-year-old woman in Long Beach, Calif., stands accused of attempting to snatch two infants, resulting in the death of a 3-week-old girl and serious injuries to both of their mothers.

Colluding with three other suspects, Giseleangelique Rene D’Milian, of Thousand Oaks, hatched a plot to steal two children in order to convince her boyfriend that she had given birth to his twins while he was abroad, according to police.

D’Milian spotted her first victim in January, a woman with a newborn who had gotten off a bus and was walking home, reports the Associated Press. Accomplice Anthony McCall, 29, of Vista, waited a couple of hours before he kidnapped the newborn Eliza Delacruz, shooting both of her parents and an uncle in the melee. Eliza’s body was found the day in a dumpster around 100 miles south.

Then in February, D’Milian used a fake charity as a front for luring an acquaintance with a son who was only 4 months old to a hotel, where McCall then assaulted her with a baseball bat. However, he fled when staff were alerted to the ruckus.

“In my notes, I had the word evil several times, and my staff told me to take it out but I can’t summarize it any other way,” police chief Robert Luna told reporters.

D’Milian and McCall are being held on suspicion of murder, attempted murder, kidnapping and conspiracy.

[AP]

TIME Research

If Either of Your Parents Smoked, Go and Get Your Heart Checked Out

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Lasting damage may have been done

A study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulati suggests smoking in front of children may increase their chances of developing dangerous carotid plaque later in adulthood.

For the study, researchers used data gathered on Finnish children between 1980 and 1983, and were able to identify which children grew up in smoking households by noting the amount of cotinine that had been found in their blood samples. (Exposure to smoke increases the presence of cotinine in the blood.)

They then correlated this with examinations of the carotid artery conducted on those same — but now fully grown — individuals between 2001 and 2007.

They concluded from this that participants who had one or two parental smokers had an almost two times (1.7 times) greater risk of developing carotid plaque in adulthood compared with participants whose parents did not smoke, regardless of other factors.

The buildup of plaque can lead to the narrowing of the carotid arteries, which is linked to strokes.

The study’s findings add to the mounting evidence that exposure to smoking from parents has lasting effects on children’s physical health later in life, reports Science Daily.

Read next: 9 Subtle Signs You Could Have a Heart Problem

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