Is My Child Overweight?

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The number of overweight kids has tripled in the United States from 1970 to 2010, according to Scholastic News Online, and the biggest contributor to this weight increase is television. When kids sit around and watch too much TV, they are not active and tend to snack. Sometimes, it isn’t easy to tell whether your child is overweight because children grow at different times and at different rates.


Body Mass Index

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that you find out your child’s body mass index to determine whether your child is overweight. The BMI is a number that calculates a child’s height and weight and indicates a child’s body fatness. Your child’s BMI falls into a certain percentile. If your child is in the 85th percentile on up, meaning that your child is heavier than 85 percent of other children, this indicates that your child is overweight.

Determining BMI

The CDC has a child and teen BMI calculator that you can use. A child’s BMI is different from an adult’s. The CDC’s BMI chart reflects a child’s age and sex because body fat changes with age and differs between boys and girls. An adult’s BMI calculation does not figure age or sex into the equation, so make sure you use a child and teen BMI calculator to determine your child’s BMI, not one for an adult.

Correcting the Problem

If your child is overweight, it can be challenging to correct the problem. Limit TV time and, if necessary, remove the TV from your child’s room. Provide healthy food for your child, such as fruits and vegetables, and limit the amount of junk food you bring into the house. Allow only one sugar-sweetened drink per day, such as juice, soft drinks, sports drinks and flavored milk. The rest of the time, give water to your child. Make a rule that no one can eat in front of the TV. Limit the amount of fast food you get for your child to no more than once a week. Encourage outdoor activity, such as family hikes, bike rides or outdoor games.

Your Attitude

Don’t be a cop regarding food. It’s better to provide healthy food than trying to limit the amount of food your child can eat, according to FamilyDoctor.org. But you can set some rules, such as no free access to the refrigerator or pantry. The rule could be to ask you first before getting a snack. Also, don’t focus on the weight issue, but do praise your child when you see that she is making efforts to eat better. Praise her for non-food-related issues, too. You want to build up her self-esteem. Whatever you do, don’t give a child diet pills. They are not safe for kids.

Health Risks

You don’t want your child overweight for health and emotional issues. Besides being a bully target, overweight kids are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and are more likely to become an overweight adult, according to Scholastic News Online.

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