More Information on Childhood Obesity
When Parents Lose, Children Win
The evidence keeps piling up: Parents are the most important role models for heavy kids. A new study from the University of California at San Diego tracked 80 families with overweight children for five months, evaluating the impact of parents losing weight themselves, changing the home food environment, and trying new parenting techniques, such as encouraging kids to be more active or to control portions. All three strategies are good, but the best predictor of a child's weight loss? Parents who lose weight too.
From age 2 on, doctors use a body mass index to track a child's weight. As with adults, the BMI for kids is based on height and weight. But while adults are considered overweight if their BMI is between 25 and 29.9, and obese if it's higher than 30, for children those cutoffs are determined using national percentiles that factor in gender and age. A child with a BMI in the 85th to 95th percentile is overweight; a child with a BMI greater than the 95th percentile is obese. Just as parents are typically told which percentile their child falls in for height and weight, they should now get the percentile for BMI at every checkup as well, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. To determine your child's BMI, click the link below.