publication date: Jun 12, 2007
author/source: Anne Coates
||While bonny, normally chubby babies are no cause for concern, once a toddler is walking and running around, baby fat should disappear. But how do you know what is normal?
The best way to check is to plot height and weight on the growth charts in the child health book that all parents are
given when they have a new baby. A weight
that is increasing across the centiles
and that is increasingly out of proportion
to the toddler's height
should warn parents
that they should look at diet
The vast majority of obese toddlers and children have simple obesity – that is they have no underlying medical condition or disease. They are overweight because the ratio between the calories taken in as food and drink, and the calories used up by exercise is too high and the excess calories are stored in the body as fat.
Carrying too much weight around accelerates bone growth so obese children tend to be taller than they would normally be at that age. However they do not become taller adults they just reach their final adult height earlier.
The good news
If your toddler is overweight, there is some good news - obesity is easier to treat in children than in adults. The aim is not to get your toddler to lose weight but to stay the same weight or to slow the rate of weight gain while normal growth in height takes place.
The bad news
Childhood obesity leads to long-term complications. Most chubby toddlers become well-proportioned children but fat toddlers tend to become fat children who go on to become fat adults with all the major health risks obesity brings.
Quite apart from the problems associated with health, fat children tend to have a harder time at school, being unable to keep up with their more agile peers and often becoming the victims of bullying.
To slow down weight gain:
- Reduce “empty calories” by cutting down on sweets and snacks.
- Avoid sugary drinks and offer water to drink instead.
- Do not add sugar to breakfast cereals and fruit and drinks.
- Offer and more fruit, vegetables and complex carbohydrates like wholemeal bread, pasta and rice.
- Increase physical activities - don’t let your child just flop in front of the TV, make sure each day includes the opportunity for your toddler to run, jump and skip around. Trips to the park, swimming pool or play group will keep your child active as will running around in the garden.
- Let your child walk – tempting though it is to put a toddler in a pushchair to get to your destination quicker, remember that your toddler is missing out on valuable exercise.