Parents often misperceive weight gain as an indication of good growth and development. Most parents judge their child’s progress by comparing them with their peers. This often leads to misjudgment thereby causing more than half of overweight kids to go untreated and develop obesity.
Identifying and diagnosing a weight issue in your child at the earliest will help in reducing the life threatening risks of developing various systemic and psychological illnesses in later life as they grow on to becoming adults.
The best way to estimate an individual’s body weight and amount of fat is by calculating BMI (Body Mass Index). This is commonly used as a screening tool in order to identify if a person is overweight or obese for his/her age.
- Normal Adults: 5 to 24.9
- Overweight: 25 – 29.9
- Obese: 30 and above
(Calculating BMI in children is different from that in adults and assessment may differ)
A child’s weight is determined using age and sex specific percentile with the help of a growth chart which helps in identifying what percentile child is currently in. Body composition for a child varies as they grow and are very different from that of adults. Calculating BMI for children is possible only from above 2 years of age.
Following points if noticed in your child should ring a few bells:
- Your child seems to be putting on weight only around the waistline especially the belly fat.
- Your child spends most of free time watching TV, staring at the computer screen and playing video games.
- Diet involves snacking and junk foods most of the time, hardly eats anything at home.
- Avoids playing out or taking part in sport activities at school as cannot run or play for long and becomes breathless after a while.
- He/She has become lazy day by day and prefers indoor games to outdoors.
- School reports signify low concentration and poor performance.
- Emotional eating – You notice your child indulging in foods more often after a bad day at school or when they are upset.
- Sudden change in mood or behavior – Being picked at or bullied at school for being overweight or having few friends.
If you are worried or suspect that your child may be overweight or is obese, talk to your pediatrician about the same and get your child’s BMI assessment done. BMI however is a good indicator but not an accurate measure to identify childhood obesity and it certainly involves consideration of few additional factors.