Yes, your kid is overweight: Weighing the cons

Odds are, you are not correct in estimating your toddler’s weight.  Maybe it’s denial.  Maybe it’s because your child’s peers are likely a similar weight.  Whatever the reason, it’s still highly likely you’re not correct in estimating whether your toddler is of optimal weight.

The fact that obesity rates are rising should come as no shocker.  But it’s hard to look in your own backyard and see this occurring.  Much easier to look at the mother of 5 overweight kids in line at Wal-Mart buying 6 2-liters of Coke and the bonus size of Oreos.

Weight aside, how many of our ideal-weight children are actually healthy?  There was much dismay several years ago here in AZ when the state budget constraints were going to necessitate cutbacks (or freezes to growth, depending on which political party had the microphone).  But really–how much medical care should kids need??  The answer, with the exception of a small percentage of child with health challenges not easily remedied with lifestyle changes, is very little.

But with poorer lifestyle choices comes poorer health and increased utilization of medical care.  The link between obesity and chronic medical conditions like asthma and respiratory illnesses is strong.  Worse, chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer clearly begin in the pre-adolescent and teen years.

So, let’s make this clear.  If your child is overweight (not even obese) they are being set up for a lifetime of sickness and disease.  It can’t be any more clear.  It is not merely an esthetic issue; rather, it is the beginning of the breakdown in health that will extend for decades to come.

So why would a parent NOT make the right choices for their child if the child is overweight?  According to this particular study, the reason is that 86% of mothers of overweight toddlers underestimated their child’s weight.

Other interesting observations:

  • Mom’s of underweight toddlers were 913% more likely to be accurate
  • 81.7% of mothers of overweight toddlers were satisfied with their toddler’s body size
  • On the other hand, only 30% of mothers of underweight toddlers were likely to be satisfied

Overall, there is a clear perception problem.  Almost all of the mothers of overweight toddlers in this study think their child’s weight is ok, and almost all of them were satisfied with their child’s weight.  Maybe the idea of a cute, plump baby and subsequent toddler used to be ok, but when this represents the beginning of health risks, it’s time for society to rethink this cultural norm.

So, if parents of overweight children do not think their child is overweight, there is no impetus for lifestyle changes.  If you have a toddler, preschooler or school aged child at home, take a hard look at them and try to be objective and ask yourself if your child is as healthy as he or she could be.

James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.