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Should you be concerned about your child’s weight?

Each time you visit the pediatrician’s office, your child will be weighed and measured to calculate body mass index. At wellness visits, these stats will be charted and compared to previous years to monitor growth patterns. If you have concerns about your child’s weight, ask to review these measurements with your pediatrician. You and your child’s doctor are the best partners for your child’s health now and in the future.

healthy lunch

Why is childhood obesity considered a health problem?

Obesity remains one of the biggest threats to the health of our children and our country. Around 17 percent of children and more than 30 percent of adults are currently considered obese — putting them at heightened risk for a wide range of health problems. Source: State of Obesity report, Trust for America's Health & Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Obesity takes a physical and emotional tool on children and is associated with various health-related consequences. Children that are obese can show symptoms of early cardiovascular disease - even as young as 5 years old. Overweight children are at increased risk of developing high cholesterol, high blood pressure, asthma, sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes. Studies also show that overweight children are more likely to become overweight adults leading to a lifetime of very serious health concerns.

How can you help combat weight problems at home?

Encourage healthy eating habits. Avoid temptation. Don't buy unhealthy snacks or desserts. Serve food in appropriate portions. Increase water intake and limit sugar-containing beverages. Make plenty of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grain foods and lean meats and proteins readily available.

Get moving. Active play or structured exercise are the best tools to fight weight problems. Adding exercise builds muscle and decreases fat. Children should not focus on weight loss. Instead the focus should be on balancing calorie intake with energy use, which will lead to a more healthy weight.

Limit "screen time" as much as possible, ideally to no more than one hour per day. This includes time spent watching television, playing video games or on the computer, tablet or phone. Sitting still for that long slows metabolic rates and encourages snacking - a double whammy for someone with weight problems.

Help your child maintain good sleep habits. Getting adequate, consistent sleep helps with metabolism, energy and mood.

Give positive reinforcement. When goals are reached, reward your child with a small present and, of course, plenty of compliments. In addition, help your child set realistic, short-term goals that allow for more chance for success.

Look for help. If you and your child can’t manage the weight problem on your own, talk to your pediatrician about local programs that are safe and designed to help kids with weight problems.
Obesity is quickly becoming a serious epidemic in our society. If you are concerned about your child’s weight, do not hesitate to make an appointment with your pediatrician. Your child’s doctor can talk to you and your child in age appropriate terms about healthy strategies as well as order important screening tests to evaluate for any weight-related health complications.

Related articles from the American Academy of Pediatrics

Remember - healthy habits start at a young age. Pay attention to the snacks and eating habits of your toddlers to get them off on the right foot.

Check out our app NP PEDS MD for further information and home care advice.

NorthpointPeds Checklist Infant/Toddler Nutrition

Baby girl with pony tail in white