Baby fat or overweight? Maybe it’s time to cut down on those burgers and colas…

You may think that it’s ok for your child to be chubby. But truth is that your child could be overweight. 

Childhood obesity has been increasingly prevalent in the 21st century. Fast food and processed products have led to changes in diet and lifestyle over the past few decades, raising our overall calorie and fat intake. Many parents believe that their child’s heavier-than-usual weight is just “baby fat” that will go away as they grow up. Some parents could be in denial, and some assume that it is acceptable after observing other similar overweight children. 

Although some overweight children do outgrow their baby fat, a study conducted by the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that two out of three overweight children continue to retain their excess fat as they progress into adulthood. 

Is Your Child Obese?

Obesity is defined as a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health. 

  • If your child’s Body Mass Index (BMI) is 25.0 to <30, it falls within the overweight range 
  • If your child’s BMI is 30.0 or higher, it falls within the obese range

Why Parents Should Be Concerned

Childhood obesity should not be taken lightly as it can have lasting health consequences into adulthood. Besides increasing their risk of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at later ages, childhood obesity can have an immense impact on their current physical, social, and emotional health. 

As compared to children who maintain a healthy weight range, obese children are more susceptible to other health conditions. For instance, obese children may suffer from sleep disorders such as excessive snoring and sleep apnea. The extra weight in the neck area can also increase the chances of airways being blocked, posing a risk of breathing problems. Furthermore, obesity is the most common comorbidity with asthma – where it is found that many obese children often develop asthmatic conditions as well.

With obese children bearing excess weight, they may also suffer from joint stiffness and pain

In the social and emotional aspect, overweight and obese children could struggle with a negative self-image, esteem, and confidence.

These physical and mental health impacts are often associated with poorer academic performance and a lower quality of life for these children. 

How Parents Can Help Reduce Child Obesity

The severity and risks associated with childhood obesity should not be underestimated nor taken lightly. If parents recognise this issue and the causes of their child’s overweight condition, they will be able to address this concern. 

If your child falls within the unhealthy weight range, you will probably need to re-evaluate their food diet and lifestyle. Even though there are many different factors that lead childhood obesity, a combination of both a carefully modified diet and physical activity can effectively help to combat the problem of excess weight and fats, as well as decrease the risks of associated health problems.

So… cut down on processed foods and sugary drinks! You should make a conscious effort to select foods that are lower in fat, calorie and sugar content. Besides enforcing a healthier lifestyle at home, it is also important to educate your child on healthy eating habits so that their habits can be extended to influence their food selection in school as well. 

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Parents should definitely be concerned if their child is overweight or obese. With proper and adequate intervention, the condition of childhood obesity can be mitigated and controlled. This would prevent them from having lasting health consequences into adulthood and decrease their chances of non-communicable diseases in the future. When in doubt, it is recommended that you speak with your child’s doctor to find out what is best for your child. 

Reference List:

  1. “Childhood Obesity: Tips for Parents​.” Health Exchange , www.healthxchange.sg/children/parenting-tips/childhood-obesity-tips-parents
  2. “Childhood Obesity: Causes and Consequences.” US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, Apr. 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4408699/
  3. “Childhood Overweight and Obesity .” World Health Organization (WHO), www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/childhood/en/
  4. “Is It Baby Fat—or Obesity?” Health.cm, 5 Feb. 2010, www.health.com/condition/obesity/baby-fat-or-obesity
  5. Roth, Erica. “Childhood Obesity.” Healthline, 27 Jan. 2016, www.healthline.com/health/weight-loss/weight-problems-in-children