What should I do if my child is overweight?

It’s not always easy to tell yourself that your child is overweight, because we often tend to think that these kilos will eventually disappear during adolescence. This is not always the case. Overweight must be taken care of by specialists. It must be stopped before the consequences endanger the child’s health, especially his or her growth.

How do I know if my child is overweight?

It is sometimes difficult to identify that a child is overweight. Many children and pre-adolescents lose all the extra pounds when they have a growth spurt. However, it is important to check whether the extra weight you think will disappear does not endanger your child’s health and growth.

To recognize an overweight child, BMI must be calculated. The WHO has established growth standards for a child (1), which takes the BMI into account. Be careful, the growth curve is not the same for a child as for an adult. For example, a BMI of 15 in a 10-year-old child corresponds to a normal corpulence, whereas an adult will be undernourished.

You can also refer to the general average established by years of studies and statistics. From the age of 5, a child should gain on average between 1.5 and 2 kilos per year.

Medical consultation and overweight factors

An overweight child needs to be cared for, but you need to know the causes of the extra weight. Knowing that each child has its rhythm of development, the causes can be multiple and can simply be resolved over time.

However, it is helpful to make an appointment with a doctor or pediatrician to identify the reasons for being overweight. This will allow you to take control of the situation and take action. Sometimes the reasons can be medical and only specialists will be able to diagnose a problem. For example, overweight or obesity can lead to certain types of childhood diabetes if weight gain is not stopped in time.

A doctor can also refer you to other specialists if you can’t find a solution to your child’s overweight. Some nutritionists specialize in children who are overweight or have childhood diabetes. Your child may benefit from regular follow-up. He or she may also be less embarrassed to talk to someone outside the family about weight problems.

Solutions to prevent overweight in a child

In most cases, overweight is due to an excess of calories ingested or the child’s daily physical activity can be involved. Reduce sweets as much as possible without depriving your child of them completely. Talk to your child about an extra-curricular sports activity to help him let off steam, burn enough calories and make friends. If your child is not very sporty, set up weekly walks during the weekend and encourage your child to go for walks.

  • Eat meals at set times and as a family.
  • Avoid distractions such as TV.
  • Favorize discussions.
  • Increase fruit and vegetable rations.
  • Finally, reduce all foods based on saturated fats and refined sugars, which are real calorie bombs.

The most important thing is to discuss with your child why he or she is overweight. Don’t make him feel guilty, but find solutions together that will work for him. Depriving your child of his or her pleasures overnight can affect his or her well-being.

Read also: How overweight kids can lose weight?

Sources and references

(1) http://www.who.int/childgrowth/standards/fr/