Archive | Child Weight Issues

Obesity In Toddlers – Causes, Symptoms, Health Risks and Prevention

Obesity is one of the most common childhood conditions in the United States. The increasing number of toddlers being overweight is very alarming, making obesity seem like an outbreak. Below are some information about the causes, symptoms, health risks and preventive measures of obesity in toddlers.

What causes obesity in toddlers?

Toddlers become obese due to a variety of factors. Common causes of obesity in toddlers are – genetics or toddlers with an obese parent or sibling is at risk of becoming overweight themselves, unhealthy eating patterns (eats more fast food and sugary food than whole grains, fruits and vegetables), lack of physical activity and certain medications that changes how the body processes food or stores fat. In rare cases, obesity can also be caused by a medical condition such as a hormonal disorder, metabolic diseases and chemical imbalances.

How will you know if your toddler is overweight?

A toddler carrying extra pounds does not automatically mean he is obese. Assessing obesity in toddlers can be tricky since toddlers can grow in erratic spurts. For this reason, you have to consult with your toddler’s pediatrician to help you determine whether or not your toddler is obese. This can be done by measuring your toddler’s weight and height and computing his body mass index or BMI. The doctor will also take into consideration your toddler’s age and growth patterns.

What are the health risks of obesity in toddlers?

Obesity in toddlers can have complications that can impede a toddler’s well-being. An overweight toddler is at risk of:

Type 2 Diabetes

Studies show that obese children are two times more susceptible to have diabetes than children of normal weight. Diabetes is a chronic condition that can influence the way a toddler’s body metabolizes glucose or sugar, resulting to high blood glucose levels which can ultimately lead to kidney disease and blindness.

Sleep Apnea

Obesity in toddlers can also result to sleep apnea (a harmful condition that causes breathing to stop momentarily while sleeping). A toddler with this sleeping disorder can develop chronic sleep deprivation as well as behavioural and learning difficulties.

High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol

These two are the leading cause of heart disease. Although high cholesterol and high blood pressure are more common in adults, overweight toddlers are also at risk of both conditions and may have a full-scale heart disease later in life.

Depression

An obese child is at a greater risk of having depression. Being overweight can harm a toddler’s self-esteem especially since he is a target of bullying. Lack of confidence can make a toddler anxious, limit his social interaction, activeness and damage his emotional state which can lead to dissatisfaction with his life.

How can obesity be prevented?

Luckily, obesity can be prevented. Parents can help their obese children lose weight by promoting a healthy lifestyle. Change your toddler’s eating habits. Provide healthy meals and snacks and limit your little one’s sweet and junk intake. Eat together. Cook more meals instead of ordering food from his favorite pizza place. If you do eat out, limit it for special events such as birthdays or after his school recital.

Get up and exercise. Play hide and seek, jump rope or jog around your neighbourhood together. Enroll your toddler in a sports class. It is also imperative to talk to your toddler about weight and the significance of living a healthy lifestyle. Of course, your toddler has to see you practicing what you preach so make sure you set a good example for your child. Do not forget to involve the entire family.

Obesity is a reversible condition. If your toddler is obese, talk to your pediatrician about creating a diet and exercise plan. Whatever approach you choose to take to help your toddler shed off some pounds, make sure to keep it fun so your toddler will not feel losing weight a chore.

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How To Help Underweight Children Gain Weight

Childhood obesity is one common health issue of children. However, many children actually deal with the opposite problem. Underweight children can experience delays in development and health complications. Below are some tips on how parents with underweight children can help.

Consult With Your Toddler’s Pediatrician

Contact your toddler’s pediatrician to determine why your toddler is underweight. The doctor will be able to rule out any underlying health issues such as food allergies, food intolerance or Celiac disease (disorder of the small intestine) that may contribute to his lack of weight gain or weight loss.

Make Mealtimes Relaxing

Pressuring your little one to eat will only cause him to eat less. Never force your toddler to eat when he does not want to. Just let him leave the table. He will eat when he is hungry. As much as possible, eat together as a family. Do not punish him if he does not eat much. Also, make sure to provide a relaxing eating environment. Eat at the dining table and see to it that there are no toys, TV or anything that can distract your toddler.

Let Your Toddler Help You Cook

Another effective technique is to encourage your toddler to participate with meal preparation so he feels invested in the food and will eat more. Just assign him simple tasks such as setting up the dining table, letting him wash the vegetables or passing the ingredients to you.

Offer Small Meals Often

Offer a few extra snacks throughout the day. A toddler who does not like eating a full meal will benefit from eating small yet filling snacks in between meals. Ask your toddler every 2 hours if he is hungry and give kid-friendly foods and drinks such as dried fruit, trail mix, granola bars, cheese, yogurt, crackers, wheat bread spread with tuna or a glass of chocolate milk.

Offer Healthy Foods Your Underweight Toddler Will Eat

Keep in mind that it is your job to provide your toddler foods that will nourish his body. Give him whole milk instead of low-fat milk. Add milk (instead of broth or water), small pieces of vegetables and meat to soup. Spread peanut butter on apples. Stir olive oil into pasta. Grill potatoes and chicken instead of frying them. Slice fruits and vegetables into tiny portions to make a fruit and vegetable salad and create a tasty dip for more flavor. This way, even if he is eating small amounts of food, he still gets the nutrients he needs.

Also, an underweight toddler should never rely on candies, chips, chocolates, cookies and pastries for energy. Substitute these with healthy desserts and snacks such as fruits with whipped cream, frozen yogurt, low-fat muffins and cookies.

Provide Liquid Calories

Give your toddler water, shakes, smoothies and fresh fruit and vegetable juice to increase his calorie intake. Avoid giving him artificial fruit juices which have minimal nutritional value. Make sure you do not give your little one more than 4 to 6 ounces of juice a day as this can fill up an already tiny appetite.

Use A Multivitamin Supplement

Using a multivitamin supplement can also be helpful in making sure your toddler gets all the necessary nutrients he needs until his diet improves. Ask your pediatrician which vitamins are suitable for your little one.

Helping an underweight toddler to gain weight can be a really challenging task. But with a little help from the expert, creativity and a healthy meal plan, your child can gain weight for better health in no time.

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How To Help Your Obese Child Lose Weight

It is not always easy to identify an obese child since children grow at different rates. So even though your toddler may seem a little plump than his peers, it does not automatically mean he is overweight. The best way to determine this is by consulting with his doctor. The doctor will calculate your toddler’s BMI (Body Mass Index) to check if his weight is proportional to his height. Your toddler will be ranked in percentiles. If he is in the 95th percentile (BMI is higher than that of 95 percent of children his age and gender), he is obese. Here are some ways you can help your toddler slim down and improve his weight.

Know The Causes

The first step to helping your obese child is to determine the causes of obesity. This condition is often caused by:

  • Poor diet
  • Eating too much foods with high-calorie content (e.g. sweets, chips, sodas)
  • Health problems
  • Minimal physical play

Seek Expert Help

Next, consult your toddler’s pediatrician for information on a smart approach to weight loss. The doctor is familiar with your toddler’s development and can gauge the seriousness of the condition. Usually, the doctor will not recommend a diet for children, but rather a healthier eating habit and increased physical activity.

Get The Whole Family Involved

The most effective way to help your toddler lose weight is by being healthy yourself. Do not expect your toddler to eat healthy if he sees mommy, daddy and his siblings binge on junk food. Set a fixed meal time and only eat in the kitchen or dining room without any distractions like the TV. Serve your family the same food you prepared for your toddler. If he sees everyone eating vegetables, he will be more willing to try it. Getting fit as a unit will not make your toddler feel singled out.

Encourage Exercise

Limit TV, computer and gaming time. Your toddler does not have to go to the gym, exercising should be a fun activity for your child. It can be as simple as playing active games inside and outside your home like hide and seek, tag or catch the ball. Take a walk together. Go biking. Let him play on the playground. Visit the park. Assign him a chore like sweeping the floor, mopping or dusting. Enroll him in a sports class. These activities may be simple, but they burn a lot of calories.

Cook At Home

Limit dining out. Restaurants, especially fast food chains tend to serve foods high in calories and fat. Prepare healthy home-cooked meals such as grilled chicken, fish sticks and cooked vegetables, Chinese chicken salad or tofu. Offer nutritious desserts like fresh fruit salad or yogurt. Cooking at home is also a great way to get your toddler involved with the food preparation which will serve as his lesson on healthy eating.

Do Not Ban Junks Entirely

There is no individual that does not love eating “sinful foods”, especially toddlers. Having a no sweets and junks rule is a temptation for cravings and overeating. Supervise his snacking instead by replacing cookies and chips with healthy options like low-fat cheese, pudding, yogurt, fresh fruits and vegetables. Substitute juice and soda with water, fresh fruit juice and low-fat milk. Once in a while, allow him to eat ice cream or chocolates, but make sure you keep a close eye on him.

Finally, be supportive and provide a lot of encouragement. This will not be a quick and easy journey for your toddler, but it can be done with your help.

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