Nobody wants to believe that their child is overweight, but 32% of children in America are overweight relative to their peer groups (at least 85% higher BMI). 18% of all children are considered obese.
Now research from Eastern Virginia Medical School and Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters suggests that parents insisting that their child is still ‘hanging on to baby fat’ may be perpetuating the childhood obesity epidemic. They say that it is crucial to identify the point at which baby fat becomes excess weight on children, and at what point intervention in a child’s diet is helpful.
The data they have gathered suggest that some children in America are putting on excess weight from as early as three months, and so they say that parents need to have a long hard talk with their pediatrician when their child is still in its infancy.
So What Do You Do With an Overweight Child?
It’s difficult to tell a child that they need to go on a diet without giving them confidence issues, so the best thing to do, experts agree, is to start children eating healthily from as early an age as possible, and not to indulge their natural desire for more and more food. This is easiest done when your child is still only a few months old, as they will become acclimatized to a certain level of diet.
That doesn’t mean you should keep your kid hungry, or put them on a vegan baby diet, however. It simply means that you should feed your child in accordance with nutritional guidelines for a child of that age, regardless of whether your child seems to want more food.
Weight Gain Starts Early
If you were an overweight child, you probably don’t remember exactly when it was that you first noticed you were bigger than the rest of the kids at school. This is because systemic weight gain – weight that is gained by increasing appetite by eating more food – begins as a toddler, and can persist into late adulthood.
Portion size is one of the main problems, say researchers at Eastern Virginia. American adults are used to large meal portions, and so they naturally feed their kids more food because they think that it is normal to eat as much as you can until you are full. If a baby cries for more food, the natural tendency is to give it to them.
When food was scarce, obesity was never a problem for our ancestors’ children. However, now that you can give your child as much food as you (or your child) wants, there is a much greater potential for your child to start gaining excess weight much earlier.