Virtual Library of Newspaper Articles

The Globe and Mail

PERCEPTION: 9% of parents think their children are fat REALITY: 26% of children are obese or overweight

The Globe and Mail, (Canada's largest national newspaper) by Andre Picard, PUBLIC HEALTH REPORTER

CHARLOTTETOWN -- Pollsters may have discovered another symptom of the childhood obesity epidemic: widespread delusion among parents.

A new poll shows that only 9 per cent of Canadian parents believe their children are overweight or obese. That is markedly less than the 26 per cent who are, in fact, overweight or obese, according to data collected by Statistics Canada.

"Parents seem to be looking at the health of their own children through rose-coloured glasses," said Ruth Collins-Nakai, president of the Canadian Medical Association, which commissioned the survey.

Over all, Canadian children rated poorly in the eyes of adults, with only 6 per cent garnering an "A" for overall health among respondents.

But, again, those surveyed had a much higher opinion about the behaviour of their offspring, with 40 per cent of them earning top marks.

Dr. Collins-Nakai, a pediatric cardiologist, said she worries that the self-delusion of parents is cushioning kids from reality and will lead to poor health outcomes.

"I have a very real fear we are killing our children with kindness by setting them up for a lifetime of inactivity and poor health," she said.

The CMA, which represents the country's 62,000 physicians, releases an annual report card to measure public feelings about the health system.

The overall grades vary little from year to year, with two-thirds of Canadians giving the system high marks (A or B).

Similarly, the federal and provincial governments continue to receive tepid ratings, with 38 per cent and 43 per cent of respondents according them, respectively, an A or B.

What is new this year is the report card's focus on child health, a central issue at the CMA's policy convention this week in Charlottetown.

The group is expected, among other things, to call on Ottawa and the provinces to adopt some specific targets for improving child health, and to support the adoption of a Charter of Children's Health.

The survey asked what immediate initiatives should be taken to improve the health of children.

Respondents showed broad support for mandatory physical education from kindergarten to Grade 12 (92 per cent), a mandatory school curriculum on the benefits of physical activity and healthy diet (87 per cent), and removing all junk foods from schools (81 per cent).

In the poll, parents showed a desire for better nutritional information and warning labels on food, tax breaks on health foods and tax deductions for the fees paid by children participating in sports. The survey also found lukewarm support for a ban on junk food advertising and opposition to junk food taxes.

Guido Van Rosendaal, chair of the council on health care and promotion of the CMA, told the conference that Canada has to begin by setting some specific and aggressive public health goals related to child health.

Delegates were also presented with some sobering statistics showing that Canada has an infant mortality rate of 5.3 per 1,000 live births, a perinatal mortality rate of 6.3 per 1,000, and a maternal mortality rate of 4.6 per 100,000 live births. These data place Canada in the middle of the pack among developed countries.

Landon Pearson, a former senator and long-time activist now associated with The Landon Pearson Centre for the Study of Childhood and Children's Rights at Carleton University in Ottawa, told delegates that Canada has to move beyond the "vague splendid goal of healthy, happy children" and set real targets to improve childhood health.

She also called for the adoption of a Charter for Children's Health, saying, "we owe it to children to give the best we have to give."

USA_Today logo

Hammering it home: Daughters need dads

USA TODAY, June 10, 2003

It's widely recognized that boys benefit from having dads around as role models and teachers about manhood.

But does having a father at home make much difference for girls?

But even in affluent families, girls become sexually active and pregnant earlier if they don't live with fathers, according to the largest and longest-term study on the problem. It was released in May.

Compared with daughters from two-parent homes, a girl is about five times more likely to have had sex by age 16 if her dad left before she was 6 and twice as likely if she stops living with her dad at 6 or older.

The study of 762 girls for 13 years took into account many factors that could lead to early sex, says Duke University psychologist Kenneth Dodge, the study's co-author. Still, there was an independent link between teenage sex and girls not living with their biological fathers.

Divorced Dads:
Shattering the Myths

Dr. Sandford L. Braver and Diane O'Connell

picture book Divorced dads: Shattering the Myths

This is the result of the largest federally funded 8 year study of the issues confronting parents and their children in the United States.

Shattering the Myths. The surprising truth about fathers, children and divorce.

Sydney Morning Herald

Children seeing more of their fathers after divorce

The Sydney Morning Herald
February 3, 2005

Divorced fathers are Read More ..volved in their children's lives than conventional wisdom would have it, a new study shows.

It shows surprisingly varied and flexible care patterns among separated families, with "every other Saturday" contact giving way to Read More ..ild-focused arrangements.

Australian Institute of Family Studies research fellow Bruce Smyth has produced the first detailed snapshot of parent-child contact after divorce anywhere in the world. Published today in the institute's journal Family Matters, the analysis has implications for children's emotional and financial wellbeing.

Other research indicates children of separated families do best when they have multifaceted relationships, including sleepovers, sharing meals and doing schoolwork, with both parents.


Fathers 'have key role with children' after families split

The Telegraph, London, U.K.

Researchers say they found a direct relationship between children's behavioural problems and the amount of contact they had with their natural father.

The effect was more pronounced in single-parent families, particularly where the mother was a teenager. In such cases, children were especially vulnerable emotionally if they had no contact with their father.

Where's Daddy?

The Mythologies behind Custody-Access-Support


When 50 percent of marriages end in divorce and 43 percent of children are left with one parent, everyone is affected: uncles, aunts, grandparents, and friends, but mostly, the children. The devastation from our divorce practices is our most public secret scandal. Everyone whispers it, the whispers never acknowledged. It seems that as long as a villain can be created, society is content.

After three decades of research universally pointing to more productive options, why does Custody-Access-Support remain?

Tallahasse Democrat

Research proves that fatherhood really matters