News of the “childhood obesity epidemic” is not unfamiliar to most, but last week the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published projections that estimate almost 60% of kids today will be obese by the time they’re 35. Let that sink in – an almost entirely preventable condition will be commonplace for this generation of kids. What’s more, obesity is linked to a higher risk for some very serious health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
The NEJM projections do suggest that when obesity is resolved with a younger child, they are less likely to become obese as adults.
How do you know whether your child is overweight or obese? Ask their pediatrician. At annual well visits, parents will be provided with their child’s height, weight and BMI percentiles. If BMI exceeds the 85th-percentile, ask your child’s provider if their BMI is trending up, or consistently at that level. By definition children are overweight above the 85th-percentile for age, and obese above the 95th-percentile for age. It’s a red flag if your child’s BMI has increased year-over-year and exceeds the 85th-percentile. Seek nutrition counseling to better understand your child’s nutritional needs to meet physical growth and cognitive development for their age without exceeding calorie needs.
Having worked with overweight and obese children at Children’s National Medical Center, I have seen how impactful nutrition education can be for families combatting childhood obesity at home. I’d be happy to discuss this further, or help you find a dietitian in your area to speak with – because bringing up kids within a healthy weight range sets them up for better long-term health.
Little gems of nutrition information and meal inspiration provided by a registered dietitian to help make your day healthier one bite at a time.