What determines if a child is obese?
How do you know if your child is considered “obese” and not just overweight? It’s a good question to ask in September, which is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. The answer lies in a measurement called BMI or Body Mass Index. Health practitioners use a special formula to calculate BMI – based on a child’s sex, height, and weight – to determine if a kid or teen is at a normal weight, is overweight, or has crept into that unhealthy territory known as obesity.
BMI is not the only factor a doctor will take into consideration, but it’s a good indicator and a starting point for discussion. So, getting a conversation started is good, but follow-up action is also highly recommended to try to get your child back to a healthy weight. That’s because being obese in childhood is associated with many risks, both physical and psychological.
- Kids who are obese are likely to remain obese as adults, facing serious health consequences throughout their lives.
- Type 2 diabetes is a growing problem among obese kids. In fact, the number of kids who’ve developed Type 2 diabetes is 3 times what it was in the 1970s, demonstrating how big the problem of obesity’s grown here in the U.S.
- Muscle and joint pain, due to the stress of extra pounds.
- Sleep apnea, asthma, and other breathing problems.
- High blood pressure and high cholesterol, both factors that lead to cardiovascular disease (problems with the heart and blood vessels).
- Foot problems, including flat feet, plantar fasciitis, and Sever’s disease – inflammation of the growth plate in the heel.
- Obese kids have higher rates of depression and anxiety.
- They themselves report that they suffer from low self-esteem.
- They’re more subject to bullying in school.
What you can do
- Begin that conversation with your child’s pediatrician.
- Instill good eating habits, practice portion control, and choose foods that are low in calories but high in volume, like fruits and vegetables.
- Provide opportunities for physical activity and limit screen time. Use the resources of the web to download a children’s screen time log.
- At the first sign of foot pain, contact Heidi M. Christie and Dr. Chanda L. Day-Houts, the caring podiatrists at Montgomery Foot Care Specialists. Our number in Montgomery, Alabama is (334) 396-3668.