March 24th, 2010
10:34 PM ET

A look beyond the fat

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/24/tiger2.jpg caption="Tiger Greene is 12 and already pre-diabetic."]

Danielle Dellorto
CNN Senior Producer

When people are in love they tend to only see what they want to. We’re all guilty of it – at work, with a spouse, and also when it comes to our children’s waistlines. One survey found 50% of parents with overweight kids failed to recognize the problem. We put blinders on. Only see what we want to. Unfortunately, ignoring the expanding waistline in our children could be killing them.

Nearly one-third of kids in America weight too much. At 250 pounds, Tiger Greene, age 12, is one of them. His father, Brian, admits to having ‘blinders’ on. Eating out is considered father, son bonding time. When he looked at Tiger he didn’t see an obese boy; he saw a young man whom he believed would hit a growth spurt and lose the “baby weight.”

The breaking point for the Greene family came right before Christmas when Tiger’s dad had his 5th heart stent put in. Tiger says he was terrified his dad would die and terrified he would follow in father’s footsteps. He told his dad enough was enough. He didn’t want to be fat anymore. He needed his dad to take off the blinders and recognize the problem and help him lose weight. “What I thought was laughing and eating and having fun was actually just digging a grave with our teeth for my son,” said Greene. “And I think as a parent realizing what you've done to your kid is the worst feeling in the world. It’s hitting rock bottom.”

Tiger had developed sleep apnea, pre-diabetes, signs of fatty liver disease and heart damage – all by age 12. He’s not alone. Experts now project an entire generation of kids may die 20 years earlier than their parents because of diseases caused by being overweight.

Tune into AC360 tonight as Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes you beyond the fat and exposes the internal health damage happening right now to America’s children.

Filed under: Nutrition • Obesity
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