Concerned About Your Child’s Weight? You’re Not Alone.
Doctors are concerned about the rise of obesity in children and youth because obesity may lead to the following health problems:
- Heart disease, caused by:
- high cholesterol and/or
- high blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Sleep apnea
- Social discrimination
Childhood obesity is associated with various health-related consequences.
Obese children and adolescents may experience immediate health consequences and may be at risk for weight-related health problems in adulthood.
Is my child growing the way he or she should be?
There is a wide range of “normal” growth. Between the ages of 2 and 5, the average child grows about 2 ½ inches taller each year, and also gains 4 to 5 pounds each year.
You and your preschooler’s doctor are partners in maintaining your child’s health. Your preschooler’s growth over time is an important sign of good health and nutrition.
Visit your doctor regularly.
As part of the visit, the doctor will weigh and measure your child. He or she can then plot your child’s information on a growth chart. Over time, the curve of the growth chart will show your child’s growth pattern and whether height and weight growth are increasing at the same rate. Your doctor will monitor the growth chart to be sure your child continues to follow the same “curve” over time and the growth pattern does not unexpectedly change.
As your child grows
To help your child maintain a healthy weight, balance the calories your child consumes from foods and beverages with the calories your child uses through physical activity and normal growth.
Remember that the goal for overweight and obese children and teens is to reduce the rate of weight gain while allowing normal growth and development.
Children and teens should NOT be placed on a weight reduction diet without the consultation of a health care provider.
Body mass index (BMI)
BMI is a practical measure used to determine overweight and obesity. BMI is a measure of weight in relation to height that is used to determine weight status.
BMI is the most widely accepted method used to screen for overweight and obesity in children and adolescents because it is relatively easy to obtain the height and weight measurements needed to calculate BMI. Measurements are non-invasive.
While BMI is an accepted screening tool for the initial assessment of body fatness in children and adolescents, it is not a diagnostic measure because BMI is not a direct measure of body fatness.
For children and adolescents (aged 2–19 years), the BMI value is plotted on the CDC growth charts to determine the corresponding BMI-for-age percentile.
- Overweight is defined as a BMI at or above the 85th percentile and lower than the 95th percentile.
- Obesity is defined as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex.
These definitions are based on the 2000 CDC Growth Charts for the United States. A child’s weight status is determined based on an age- and sex-specific percentile for BMI rather than by the BMI categories used for adults.
Classifications of overweight and obesity for children and adolescents are age- and sex-specific because children’s body composition varies as they age and varies between boys and girls.
Encourage healthy eating habits
There’s no great secret to healthy eating. To help your children and family develop healthy eating habits:
- Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products.
- Include low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products.
- Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils, and beans for protein.
- Serve reasonably-sized portions.
- Encourage your family to drink lots of water.
- Limit sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Limit consumption of sugar and saturated fat.
Remember that small changes every day can lead to a recipe for success!
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