It is now estimated that one in every five children in the US is overweight, a number that has more than tripled in the last 30 years. Overweight preschoolers are five times more likely than average weight children to be overweight or obese as adults. As a result, childhood obesity is regarded as the most common prevalent nutritional disorder of American children. If you’re watching your child struggle with his or her weight, there is good news: the majority of childhood obesity cases can be reversed with the proper support and encouragement.
Understanding the problem
Childhood obesity isn’t just about carrying around a few extra pounds—the reality is that it puts kids at risk for developing serious health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and asthma. There is also a mental health risk associated with obesity; overweight children are more likely to have a lower self-esteem than their peers, which can lead to depression. Studies have shown that children as young as six may associate negative stereotypes with excess weight and believe that an overweight child is less likable.
Is your child overweight?
BMI (body mass index) is a calculation that uses height and weight to estimate how much body fat someone has. Doctors use BMI to find out if a child or teen is underweight, of a healthy weight, overweight, or obese. This calculator gives an approximate BMI for children from ages 5 to 18. It will help to tell you if your child is at a healthy weight for his or her age.
What to do if your child is overweight or obese
As previously mentioned, you should be concerned if your child has extra weight because weighing too much will likely increase the chances that he or she will develop health problems now or later in life. As a parent or caretaker, you play the most important role in helping your child build healthy eating, drinking, physical activity, and sleep habits.
Here are some ways to help your child develop healthy habits:
- Be the ultimate role model by choosing healthy foods having an active lifestyle.
- Children should get at least an hour of physical activity each day.
- Limit screen time.
- Don’t single your child out—involve the entire family in building healthy eating and physical activity habits.
- Make sure you child gets enough sleep; some studies have linked excess weight to not getting enough sleep.
If you are concerned about your child’s weight, don’t hesitate to visit your nearest CareWell clinic for an evaluation and treatment plan. We’re open seven days a week with extended hours.