According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the prevalence of children who are obese has doubled over the past two decades, and the number of obese adolescents has tripled. So how do you know if your child simply has "baby fat" or a serious health problem?
The first signal of a problem is a sudden weight gain. From birth, a child's weight gain should be steady and fairly consistent. Alert your pediatrician of any major fluctuation for this may be cause for concern.
Your pediatrician will likely use the Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine if your child is overweight. Your child's BMI is determined using a simple height-to-weight ratio and used to see what percentile they fall in for their age and gender. According to the CDC, anything above the 85th percentile is considered overweight, while anything above the 95th percentile is obese. Learn more about the BMI and growth charts.
So what can you do to help your child? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that families focus on creating an environment that promotes healthy choices. This includes limiting consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, making time for one hour of daily physical activity, and regularly eating home-cooked meals together. Learn other tips and tricks you can do at home to help your child maintain a healthy weight.