2023 Author: Anita Thornton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-22 03:30
Should we worry about children's weight? Why don't they all grow and grow in the same pattern? A word that helps to understand and accept: diversity.
The “normal” weight
During infancy, children have a very rapid growth rate. That said, each child grows at their own pace. He may be shorter, heavier or lighter than other children his age and this is completely normal. Generally, his growth curve respects a regular profile, that is to say that he remains approximately in the same percentile of the growth curves. But small variations are normal, and they mostly occur in the first two years of life (and then in adolescence). It would seem that about one in two children experiences a period of transient overweight at one time or another.
“Normal” weight is not the same for all children. Naturally, little ones tend to eat the amounts needed to support their own rate of growth and reach the weight that is normal… for them. The role of the adults around them is to provide them with an environment conducive to the acquisition of he althy eating habits and to allow them to listen to their hunger signals.and satiety.
A changing body
During the first years of life, a child grows and gains weight. Often, for a year or two, he gains proportionally more weight than he grows, which causes little “baby curves” to appear. His body lengthens and then gradually refines until around the age of 4 to 6 years. A few months or years later, depending on each child, he begins to accumulate a little adipose (fat) reserves. This is called “adiposity rebound”. This is a normal phenomenon, as if the body is preparing for the growth spurt that awaits it in adolescence.
The growth curves take into account the adiposity rebound. If it occurs early (before 5 ½ years), the child has an increased risk of later obesity. This is also the case for children whose weight-for-height (or body mass index (BMI)) percentiles increase over time.
Identifying a weight problem
A single point on a growth chart does not allow us to draw any conclusions about the "normality" of a child's weight. It takes several measurements, spread over several months to detect any anomaly. And remember that a physician, nutritionist, or other qualified he althcare professional is in the best position to interpret results and investigate other parameters.
Even if a weight problem is identified, whether it is too low or too high, we do not imposeespecially not a diet to a young child. Wanting to make him lose weight before he has finished growing can have serious consequences. It can disrupt their growth, weaken their bones, cause fatigue, etc. Not to mention the isolation of which he would be a victim. In short, a weight-loss diet risks amplifying the problem rather than solving it. We can – indeed, we must – improve eating habits if necessary, but not in a restrictive or negative context.
As for underweight children, the same is true. Do not force them to finish their plate or impose large portions on them, as these behaviors lead to disorders in the recognition of signals of hunger and satiety.
What influences weight?
We tend to blame our weight (and that of our children) on genetics. Contrary to popular belief, the greatest influence of heredity is not genes, but habits inherited from parents!
The type of food eaten, the habit of eating in front of the television or eating quickly, serving large portions, always emptying your plate, being active or not, etc. are all determinants of weight. Putting he althy eating and physical activity on the family agenda benefits everyone.
Also, without knowing or realizing it, our words and attitudes as influential adults can alter the course of history. For example, forcing a child tofinish his plate, reward or comfort him with food, prohibit or restrict certain foods, etc. can cause him to neglect to trust his own ability to eat his fill and to eat just because he is hungry. It is therefore better to avoid this type of interference.
It's not just the weight…
Weight is not the only determinant of he alth. On the contrary, lifestyle habits have a direct impact. In this regard, physical activity plays a leading role.
Furthermore, weight and figure should not be given too much importance, as this may cause unjustified or exaggerated concerns. We therefore avoid even talking about it in front of the children. They are building their self-esteem and now is not the time to compromise it with hurtful remarks!
We will address this issue of weight attitudes in a future article. In summary: leave room for variety and growth at the pace of every little eater!