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How do I know if my child is obese?

Question: How do I know if my child is obese?

Answer:

Having a child looking heavier than other kids his age does not necessarily mean he is obese. Depending on the stage of childhood development, children have different amounts of body fat and may be mistaken for signs of being overweight or obese. Some children may also look big because they have a large body frame compared to others. It is best to see your doctor for consultation.

As a form of screening, your child’s body mass index (BMI) will be calculated to determine how he compares with other children of the same age. The WHO recently published Child Growth Standards currently accepted worldwide. Healthy children are found between the 5th to 85th percentiles. Overweight is between 85th to less than 95th and obese is equal to or greater than the 95th percentile.

Childhood obesity needs particular attention because it is associated with health problems such as hypertension, elevated cholesterol and diabetes. Aside from these, it may also lead to inability to cope socially because of poor self-esteem leading to depression. Some say they will eventually outgrow the “baby fat” however; obesity in childhood and adolescence is likewise predictive of obesity in adulthood and increased prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors.

A wise treatment strategy would be to involve the whole family in embracing a healthy lifestyle and improving the diet and exercise habits of all the members. Treating the problem now helps promote better health and protects your child in the future.

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