Have you ever heard these expressions when it comes to explaining a child’s weight problem?
“My son will grow into his weight.”
“Food is just how we show love in our family.”
“There’s just more to love when you’re bigger.”
However well-intentioned these sentiments are, weight problems in childhood should not be glossed over. Children who are overweight or obese have an increased risk to develop serious health conditions such as sleep apnea, Type 2 diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure and bone and joint problems. These children are also more likely to have chronic health conditions in adulthood.
Dr. Gregory Ramey, Ph.D., executive director of the Dayton Children’s Hospital Center for Pediatric Mental Health Resources says that these excuses get in the way of taking the action needed to deal with a serious issue. Parents must challenge these beliefs if they want to get ahead of childhood weight problems.
“It’s just baby fat – my daughter will lose weight as she grows.” Many kids who are overweight as toddlers or school age children are still overweight as they become teenagers. Most kids do not outgrow the problem. It’s important to check with your doctor to find out if your child’s weight is appropriate for his or her height and age – even as a toddler.
“My overweight child will ‘grow into’ his weight.”
Gaining weight is an important part of the growth process. However, gaining weight faster than growth in height is a serious concern. Children need to have good eating habits and an active lifestyle at all ages. Routine growth spurts will not reverse weight problems.
“In our family, we are just big-boned.”
Being overweight has nothing to do with bones – it is caused by having too much body fat. Much of that body fat ends up around the waistline, where there are no bones. Having excess body fat around the waist can lead to diabetes and liver disease.
Regardless of the reasons why a child may be overweight or obese, addressing weight challenges and developing healthy habits early on is important to prevent weight-related disease. If you are concerned about your child’s weight, talk with your family physician.