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| Home Organize Your Wellness The Organized Fitness How Do I Know if My Child Has a Weight Problem?
The Organized FitnessHow Do I Know if My Child Has a Weight Problem?
There's no simple answer to the question of whether a child has a weight problem - or whether they'll ever outgrow excess weight. Working with a physician, watching the child's diet, and encouraging exercise can be the start to a healthy life.
Childhood obesity is an epidemic right now in the United States. There are several causes for the very real and alarming problem. First is the family, the greatest risk of obesity among children comes from having two obese parents. This may be due to lifestyle (eating) and exercise habits as well as genetics. In addition to parental influence, obesity is more prevalent among children who spend hours in front of the television. Not only does excessive time on the sofa reduce activity in the child’s life but this child will also typically chose high calorie snacks that accompany the television watching. Sadly, in addition to watching too much television, only one-third of American children have regular physical activity in their school environment and as few as one fifth engage in extracurricular physical activity.
Obesity is easier to prevent than to treat, and prevention focuses in large measure on parent education. In infancy, parent education should center on promotion of breastfeeding, recognition of signals that the baby is satisfied, and delayed introduction of solid foods. In the early years, education should include proper nutrition, selection of low-fat snacks, good exercise habits, and limits of television viewing. In cases where preventive measures cannot totally overcome the influence of hereditary factors, parent education should focus on building self-esteem and addressing psychological issues.
How can you tell if your child is obese or simply still has baby fat that will diminish will regular growth? Well, there is actually no answer to that question. A study conducted in 1991 by Dr. Phillip Nadar at the University of California, San Diego concluded that baby fat becomes pre-teen fat which becomes adult fat. 60% of preschoolers and 80% of elementary aged children with weight problems still had weight issues at age 12. The reason for this phenomenon is that at early ages and during puberty, the excess calories we take in are being stored as new fat cells. These new fat cells stay with the child for life thus making him or her an overweight adult. Being overweight and having baby fat are actually one in the same. So, how do you know if your baby or child is being set up for an unhealthy start in life? Visit your pediatrician on an annual basis to monitor your child’s health and weight. Don’t rely on the opinions of the thin-conscious society we live in. Many adults feel children should be shaped like small adults and that is not the case. Children’s legs and torso are shaped and proportioned very differently from an adult’s.
If you have established that your child has an obesity problem, there are steps you can take to help him or her deal with and counter the health risk. One suggestion is to make physical activity fun for your child. Spend time at the park or in the pool. Exercise with your child. They will imitate what they see you doing. Another recommendation is to not impose diets on children. They will view these calorie restrictions as punitive and will form poor eating habits that may make a healthy lifestyle even more difficult. For some tips on how to make good choices and modify the poor nutritional habits already set in motion, try the following:
There is no one step or quick fix to what has become an epidemic in the United States but education is half the battle. Now you know what signs to watch for in the battle towards greater health and wellness in your children as well as the steps to prevent and battle this growing problem.
By Christina Leon, Staff Writer