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Children: Is my child overweight?

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How do I know if your child is overweight? Is it wise to put your child on a diet? Or isn’t a little overweight that bad? When is a child estimated to be overweight? All these questions, and many others, many moms ask themselves at some point if their child eats a lot and gains weight, but how do you know if he is strong and healthy or overweight? Sometimes it’s hard to determine if your child weighs too much or is just plump. Especially with infants and toddlers, it is normal for them to have fat pads and fat legs.

“Baby fat” begins to disappear around the second year of life. And when your child is 4 years old, it will disappear completely. So it can no longer be said that a 5-year-old weighs too much from his baby’s fat.

Being overweight in today’s children is a serious problem. Over time if left untreated, it can lead to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, joint problems, asthma, and diabetes. But also psychosocial problems such as bullying and low self-esteem can be the result of excess weight.

Recognize the problem

It’s not always immediately clear why a child is overweight. Maybe they eat or drink things you never knew were high in calories, or the portions aren’t adequate for their age.

One of the most important tools in the fight against obesity is knowledge. When parents know what it is and what they can do about it, the biggest and hardest step has been taken, obesity can be a serious problem, but it is certainly not invincible.

As with adults, determining your child’s BMI (Body Mass Index) is a quick and easy method of determining whether your child is healthy or abnormal relative to his or her age and height.

You can find a BMI meter suitable for children and adults by doing a simple Google search. If it turns out your child is overweight, it’s important to take timely action.

How to deal with the problem?

The assumption that obese children simply eat too much and get little exercise is easy, but not quite correct. More factors play a role in the development of severe obesity in children. We can point out four causes that are to a greater or lesser extent responsible for the development of childhood obesity:

  • Bad eating habits.
  • Very little movement.
  • Genetic predisposition.
  • Psychological factors.

Seek professional help

If your child weighs too much, it’s wise to take a closer look at their diet. If you eat candy or chips regularly, limit this or choose healthy snacks. Also, check if your child gets enough exercise. At least one hour a day is a good guideline. Never put your child on a strict diet if they are really overweight, you have to be very careful, as drastic and strict restrictions can perhaps be counterproductive. It is preferable to discuss it with the pediatrician and take it to a pediatric dietitian to discuss the best way to address this.

A specialist will address with you and your child the personalized eating and exercise pattern in your little one. A dietitian will also try to find out why a child has gained extra weight. Is there enough healthy food at home or are there other causes that can be addressed? If it’s clear where the problem is, the dietitian will come up with a plan together with the parents for a healthier diet and lifestyle.

How to talk to your child?

You can talk honestly with your child. Choose a quiet time and a place where you feel safe to talk. Don’t talk about it as a problem itself, or about weight loss, but explain that eating differently and exercising more will make you healthier and more agile. Look for a physical activity that you like and that can be fun so that you start in an enjoyable way with the subject.

Explain that eating healthier doesn’t mean you shouldn’t snack again. It is important that you enjoy the food and do not see it as something forbidden. A candy in its time is best, otherwise the desire to get it will only increase along with your anxiety and you may start itching in secret. The point is to be able to make him understand that it’s okay to eat a snack if it’s in moderation.

Involve your child

Go shopping together and let him help in the kitchen. And, as I said earlier, to make exercise more fun, you can let him try different sports or go out with him more often. If your child’s weight stabilizes and the action plan works well, then reward him. A fun outing or a small gift, for example. In any case, no food.

Prevention of obesity in children

Some children are naturally more agile, so they need more “fuel” than others. So how much a child eats doesn’t say much. As long as your child eats 3 meals and 2 healthy snacks a day, there’s not much to worry about. It doesn’t matter if you eat 1 or 2 sandwiches at breakfast or lunch. As long as you don’t eat excessively sweet or fatty. Because what a child eats is much more important than how much. In chocolate, a syrup waffle, or a croissant, there are many fats and sugars.

Toddlers and food

TV commercials and ads for candies, soft drinks, and special treats for children have a great influence on children. They still can’t distinguish between advertising and reality. Even if your child doesn’t understand it right away, explain as soon as possible and as often as possible that the advertising has been done to make money. It also reads the packaging, the contents, and the number of calories. 0% fat, for example, does not mean that there is no sugar in a product.

Overweight, a vicious circle

Aside from the fact that obesity can cause diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, joint ailments, and shorter life, it’s primarily a social burden for children. Fat children most often do not belong, do not get along, withdraw, move less and eat more out of grief. A vicious circle difficult to break.

Regular exercise is essential

If your child gets too fat despite a healthy diet, he or she may not get enough exercise. As a rule, you should create a balance between the time you spend in front of the TV or computer and that you invest in staying physically active. Going to the playground, biking, climbing, going to the paddling pool, the beach, going to the store, or walking with the whole family, any excuse will do.

Support your overweight child

The most important thing you can do is make sure you support your child in every way. Show them that you are proud of their effort. Do not leave sweets out there, if necessary rearrange the closets, and ensure a responsible diet.

Some tips:

Eating at the table is not only more fun but children (and adults) eat proportionally less than when they are sitting in front of the TV or behind the computer;

If you remove the jar of sweets and put the fruit on the table, you will automatically be more easily tempted to choose something healthier. Try creating a healthy environment in your home.

Pay attention to snack times: what’s really in terms of sugar, fat, and calories? This is seen very clearly on the label: compare products with each other. Many products that seem healthy ultimately are not. “No added sugar” does not mean it does not contain sugar. A slice of gingerbread or fruit cookie seems suitable for children, but they are foods with many calories so you have to control the portions.

What does your child drink? Most people know that soda contains a lot of sugar. But what about juices or yogurts to drink? They are not as healthy as they seem. Did you know that there are 5 lumps of sugar in a bottle of apple juice?

Portions are important. Of course, it’s important what your child eats, but also the amount plays an important role.

It is also necessary to rule out any health problems that are the cause of this overweight, such as hormonal or thyroid gland problems. For this reason, it is essential to go to the doctor first for professional help.

All the information we give you in this article is indicative as each child and each family is different and unique.

Carolina González Ramos

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