Excessive weight in children causes the child and parents to be “fat shamed” which is BULLYING. Overweight/obese children are often looked upon as lazy, lower intellect, nonathletic and unmotivated. Their parents are blamed for the child’s weight because people believe being overweight/obese is ONLY related to bad eating habits and poor exercise behaviors. But no one notices that the sibling in the same family eats the same meals and is normal weight. The sad and frustrating truth is, any overweight/obese child (or adult) processes food differently than normal weight people. Also, overweight/obese children (or adults) have malfunctioning hunger and fullness nerve centers in the brain. They are less full, get hungry faster and stay hungrier than normal weight children.
As the child gets heavier it takes more food to get their brain to say: “I am full now”.
Also, we are taught to clean our plates and the plates today are much bigger than the size of plates in the 1950’s. The 2009 12-inch plate (1900 calories) is more than twice as much food as the 1950’s plate. (800 calories). The USDA daily intake of calories for a 10-year-old child is 1600-2200 calories a day.
What should a parent do? Talk to your pediatrician to see where your child is on the normal curve for weight, height and BMI for their age. Children who are ages 2-5 years old and in the top 85% of the curves can be monitored yearly and many will settle into a normal weight over the next couple of years.
For children who are > 95% in weight for their age or who do not slow down their weight gain, will need further medical studies and often referral to a program designed to help children with obesity.
Lastly, each obese child has a genetic, metabolic, or other issue that leads to weight gain in excess. Their parents are doing the best they can to take excellent care of their child. Obesity has many causes and the obesity epidemic is worse because of the high sugar, high calorie, easily accessible, and super palatable (tasty) food sources we have available.
A couple of resources for parents:
Further reading: Scientific Paper with interesting information
In one genetic mutation of Ankyrin-B the mice gained excessive weight WITHOUT any change to their amount of food intake or physical activity from the normal weight mice. They put the energy from food into growing fat cells more than growing muscle cells.
Ankyrin-B metabolic syndrome combines age-dependent adiposity with pancreatic β cell insufficiency Damaris N. Lorenzo, Mingjie Zhang, Vann Bennett Published August 3, 2015; First published July 13, 2015
Citation Information: J Clin Invest. 2015;125(8):3087-3102. https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI81317.