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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.


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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