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Is my child overweight?

Thursday, February 17, 2011
Is my child overweight?

Question: With all the talk about childhood obesity, I was wondering how I can find out if my child is overweight? I want to make sure he has the best start in life, but am confused about what is an appropriate weight. My personal trainer showed me how to calculate my BMI, can I use this on my child?

Answer: You have obviously heard of the body mass index (BMI). It is a simple tool to determine if someone is within their healthy weight range. It is commonly used for adults and is calculated by dividing a person's weight (in kilograms) by their height (in metres squared).

In adults, a BMI of 25 to 30 would be classified as overweight and greater than 30 would be classed as obese. However, the BMI is not a perfect tool for determining if someone is overweight as some healthy people can fall in the overweight BMI range because of larger than average muscle mass. Also, for children, other factors, such as age, also need to be considered.

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Therefore, parents should not rely on BMI to diagnose their child as overweight or obese. Instead, pay a visit to your family doctor as a starting point. You may then be referred to an accredited practising dietician or registered dietician for further advice.

Special weight management programs also exist for obese children, usually incorporating family involvement.

Remember it is important not to alarm your child unnecessarily. Any action that needs to be taken should be through a supportive family unit. Never single out one child as a "special case", this could do more harm than good.

This information is provided by the Sanitarium Nutrition Service.

Your say: Have you had problems with your child's weight? How did you handle it?

Video: How to deal with childhood obesity

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