Weight gain tends to happen in children who regularly take in more energy than their body needs. Sometimes professionals talk about obesity, and this can be quite difficult to accept. Children are classed as obese when they become very overweight and have too much fat in their body. Obese children are more likely to develop serious health problems such as heart problems, diabetes and even cancer.
Every child is unique with large variations seen in their shapes and sizes. This can make it very difficult to look at a child and determine whether they are a healthy weight for their age, gender and height. As a starting point it might be worth considering the following:
- Does my child struggle to keep up with their friends and peers when playing?
- Does my child consistently wear clothes made for older children because they fit better?
- Does my child regularly eat the same size food portions as myself or an older child?
If you think your child could be at risk of being overweight or have concerns about their weight, take them to see your GP.
Lifestyle changes can be made to tackle obesity. Changes can be made to the types of food that children eat, the quantity of food eaten and the amount of activity done on a daily and weekly basis.
Parents can be the best role models, so making changes as a family can be beneficial for long lasting lifestyle changes. Parents can help children to decrease portion sizes, cut down on sugary, fatty and salty foods, whilst increasing the amount of fruit and vegetable the family consumes. Sugary drinks can be replaced with water, semi-skimmed milk or moderate amounts of diluted fruit juice.
If your child is struggling to talk about their problems, they can call Childline free on 0800 1111 or get in touch online.