Is Your Child Overweight?

When does baby fat turn into a problem? At what point are your children overweight and at risk for health problems down the road?

The reality can be hard for parents to determine, but with a growing percentage of American children suffering from overweight issues, it's a crucial task for all parents. Read on to determine whether your child is at a healthy weight, and if not, what to do.

Assess Your Child's BMI

Doctors have long relied on growth charts to determine whether children are developing appropriately, but some now turn to the Body Mass Index, or BMI, which uses height and weight to approximate the level of body fat a person has. BMI is used as a screening tool to identify possible weight problems for children. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend the use of BMI to screen for overweight and obesity in children beginning at two years old.

To calculate your child's BMI, visit your doctor or use an online BMI Calculator. The result will tell you whether your child has an appropriate level of body fat based on his height, age, and weight. A score ranging from the fifth percentile up to the 84th percentile is considered a healthy weight. If your child's BMI is over the 85th percentile, schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss the results and determine what other factors should be considered.

Assess Your Child's Caloric Intake

For a child who is growing and developing normally, it is usually unnecessary to count calories. Young children often self-regulate their own eating patterns and will not eat more than their bodies need or let themselves starve. However, knowing what the caloric needs are for children can be a helpful tool for determining whether your child is getting adequate nutrition. The USDA recommendations of calories for children can be found here. The next step is to ensure that the calories your child is taking in are of good quality.

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