Is my child overweight?

Are you worried about your children's weight? Do you want to know if it is within the acceptable weight/height range? Dr Dana answers all your questions.

Is your child overweight?

Is your child overweight?

Hi, my girl is 3-years-old. Recently I am a bit worry about her weight. May I know whether her weight and height is within the acceptable range? She is around 99cm tall and weighs 17kg.

Answer

Your child’s weight for her height based on the World Health Organisation (WHO) Child Growth Standards is at the 91st percentile for her age, assuming that she is exactly 3 years old.

Her BMI measurement is 17.3 kg/m2, which when based on the WHO Child Growth Standards, is at the 89th percentile.

Overweight is defined as a BMI of above 85th percentile but below 95th percentile, and obesity is defined as a BMI of above 95th percentile or 30 kg/m2. Severe obesity is considered as a subset of obese patients and is defined as a BMI at above 99th percentile, consistent with established guidelines.

So yes, your child is overweight. But do not despair. There is still time to teach your child, and your family, on what steps can be taken to combat this problem from progressing to the obesity range.

In the near future, the main factors that will contribute to her weight issues will be mainly her diet and lifestyle. Her diet is heavily influenced by the rest of the family’s eating habits as well as the types of food that is introduced in her school environment. If she has a mainly sedentary lifestyle, it tends to be because of the rest of her family adopting that same lifestyle.

This is worsen by the plentiful electronic game consoles like the Xbox, Playstations and Nintendos, that fixate the child to the spot, mesmerizing them to the lights and sounds on the screen. There are activities in her childcare environment that actually helps to motivate her to be physically active. So try to bring the physical activities back into your home.

The family’s eating habits, if they are not preparing home-cooked food most the time, is heavily influenced by the bombardment of food advertisements on screen, in the press and even online.

The impact of television advertisements on children’s eating behaviour and health is very real. In a study titled “Effect of television advertisements for foods on food consumption in children” in the April 2004 edition of the journal Appetite, researchers examined lean, over weight and obese children’s ability to recognise eight food and eight non-food related adverts in a repeated measures design. Their consumption of sweet and savoury, high and low fat snack foods were measured after both sessions. Whilst there was no significant difference in the number of non-food adverts recognised between the lean and obese children, the obese children did recognise significantly more of the food adverts. The ability to recognise the food adverts significantly correlated with the amount of food eaten after exposure to them. The overall snack food intake of the obese and overweight children was significantly higher than the lean children in the control (non-food advert) condition. The consumption of all the food offered increased post food advert with the exception of the low-fat savoury snack.

These data demonstrate obese children’s heightened alertness to food related cues. Moreover, exposure to such cues induce increased food intake in all children. Exposure to food adverts promotes consumption.

Answered by:

Dr Dana Elliott Srither MBBS (Singapore), Grad Dip Family Medicine, is a certified Family Physician who believes in the principles of “Get Well” and “Stay Well”.

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