Thursday, November 19, 2009

Child obesity - are we part of the problem?

I am mortified, though not surprised to find out that we might be part of the childhood obesity epidemic. Our eldest has genetics that helps her gain weight. She is always hungry and her body can convert any excess energy into fat. When she was small a week at the Grandparents she would come home clearly putting on weight. Trinity has chosen her genetics better and carry's almost no body fat. We sometimes look at Trinity when she is contorting her body on a playground and wonder if we are feeding her enough. She is all muscle and bone. You can count her ribs and when she bends over her back bones look like a row of dinosaur type spines! She will be very pleased about her genetics when she grow up!

Our diet has been nutritional poor this year. Thus we have all gained weight over winter. As it have got warmer and Victoria has been in her togs and lighter/smaller clothes we have noticed that Victoria has put on weight around her tummy area. We have not mentioned anything to Victoria because we don't want to give her a complex - nor have her worry about her body. Like any teenager she will have enough anxiety about her body, so why bring this forward.  

Spurred on by an article regarding measuring obesity in children. It turns out that childhood obesity is not measured in the same way as adults. Adults obesity is defined as:
Mild obesity (BMI 30+), morbid obesity (BMI 40+), and malignant obesity (BMI 50+)

Were as children are considered obese if they are heavier than 95th percentile. What this means is that given an average population of 100 kids, 5 will be overweight/obese.  As you know the age of the child combined with the weight you can read the percentile from this graph. Now I read a study once that stated that parents were very poor at picking up obesity in their own children. This is not really surprising as we all look at our children with rose colored glasses. So I thought that I should find out if Victoria is actually overweight/obese. Well it turns out she is right on the 95th percentile.

However she has always been around the 95th for both weight and height ever since she was born over 10 pounds. She clearly has the tall gene that comes from my side of the family. So we are left with a problem - we can't use the overweight definition - as we are already outside the "norms".

We are trusting that over summer we will all become more active, thus losing our winter weight gain. As we sort out our diet back into a low sugar and lower fat diet as a family we should become more healthy and as a result hopefully we will all lose our excess body fat. Thus we will not say anything, nor worry about Victoria. However it does concern me that there are not better tools for evaluating obesity in children. 

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