PRNewswire/ - A new survey released by Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City shows more than 70 percent of parents would find it "very important" to seek medical care for a child with diabetes symptoms, asthma or a learning disability, whereas only 54 percent of feel the same about a child who is overweight. Moreover, nearly all parents say they would seek medical attention for a condition that would limit their child's life expectancy or impact his or her future healthcare costs.

"Despite the attention on the obesity epidemic, the disconnect found among parents regarding the long-term outcomes associated with childhood obesity is concerning," said Sarah Hampl, MD, medical director, Weight Management Services at Children's Mercy. "Obese children have both immediate and future health problems, including hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. The survey illustrates that parents need help connecting the dots between having an overweight child and what their future health consequences may be."

In addition to agreeing that parents have the greatest potential to prevent obesity, parents are also looking to the schools for help, with six out of ten agreeing schools have a potentially great impact on preventing childhood obesity. Many parents are in favor of school policy changes including physical education requirements and restrictions on unhealthy foods at school fundraising activities.

"It is evident that parents recognize that there is an issue and that they can have an impact on combating obesity," said John Lantos, MD, the hospital's Director of Pediatric Bioethics. "They need to set a healthy example and work with both physicians and schools to encourage a healthy lifestyle that includes physical activity, healthy habits and nutritious food." Other key findings from the Perspectives on Pediatric Obesity survey included:

  • Few parents are supportive of extreme interventions for overweight children, including weight loss surgery, medication or removal from their parents' custody, and more parents support moderate interventions such as outpatient treatment programs.
  • Parents are supportive of proposed regulations that require:
    • Healthy options in all public places that have vending machines.
    • Health insurance companies to cover obesity treatment.
    • Require sidewalks in all neighborhoods.
    • Strengthen regulations on food marketing to kids.
    • Control locations of fast food restaurants (for example, limiting placement near schools).
    • Tax foods such as potato chips and sweets.

Full results of the survey can be found on the Children's Mercy website,