Nearly 25 percent of children ages 2 through 5 are classified as obese or overweight. Is your childcare center taking measures to prevent overweight and obesity or is it adding to the problem? In fact, The Institute of Medicine has published Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies that are re really important to read.
As a childcare provider, one of your duties is to be aware of the issues that affect young children, including obesity. An interview with Gonzalo Sabogal, MD, pediatrician at Advanced Pediatrics in NY, provides some guidelines to help child care professionals understand the difference between overweight and obese:
OwnADaycare: What is the difference between overweight and obese?
Dr. Gonzalo Sabogal: These are terms that are used to help guide doctors on different weight categories. Overweight refers to an excess amount of body weight, which includes Fat, Muscle, Bone and Water. Obesity specifically refers to an excess amount of body fat. In children, a chart of Body-Mass-Index for age and sex is used. When the BMI is >85 percentile the child is consider “at risk” of being overweight. A child with a BMI >95 percentile is considered “Obese”.
OwnADaycare How can a parent tell if a child is overweight or obese?
Dr. Gonzalo Sabogal: Ideally at well care visits your Doctor will plot your child’s height and weight and inform the parent of his BMI. If there is a risk, your Doctor will make you aware.
OwnADaycare: What is BMI?
Dr. Gonzalo Sabogal: It is a number calculated from a person’s height and weight. It provides a reliable indicator of body fatness. It is used to screen weight categories like overweight and obesity, which may lead to health problems.
OwnADaycare: What is BMI percentile?
Dr. Gonzalo Sabogal: BMI percentile for a child tells how that child’s BMI compares to the reference population of thousands of children on which the BMI chart is based. For example, if a boy is eight years old and his BMI falls at the 60th percentile, that means that 40% of 8-year-old boys have a higher BMI and 60% have a lower BMI than that child.
OwnADaycare: How can a parent calculate his/her child’s BMI and what do the results mean?
Dr. Gonzalo Sabogal: A parent can get BMI calculators on line and easily obtain a BMI. But, I must stress that a plan of action should be done with the physician. There are several reasons why a child may be overweight, so it is important that parents work together with the physician. A parent can follow a BMI at home, but it should not be used as an only indicator. I have stated before, it is only a screening tool that guides us to the general fatness of the patient. It helps so we can start a dialogue with the family. This will impress upon the importance that the child’s physician is observing certain parameters that can potentially harm the child, but if they are counseled early enough they could help prevent future health problems in the child.
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