As parents, we worry more about whether our kids have enough to eat than whether they are overeating. Even if they are a little on the chubby side, we think, they’ll shed it sometime later.
The problem comes when losing that baby fat is tougher than we imagine. A research by Singapore’s Health Promotion Board (HPB) suggests that outgrowing childhood chubbiness is just a myth — and a potentially dangerous one.
Misconceptions about baby fat
According to HPB’s findings, a whopping 70% of children here who were overweight remained overweight as adults. In other words, being chubbier as a kid tips the scales hugely in favour of them not being able to outgrowing baby fat.
Already, 10% of 5-year-olds here are overweight and 11% of kids from primary to pre-university levels are obese. These figures mean that more kids will struggle with stubborn ‘baby fat’ that just won’t go away, creating future health problems.
As most of us know, overweight people are at higher risk of developing obesity-related illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure. With Singapore’s obesity prevalence at around 11%, an incredible 1.7 million Singaporeans are already at risk of such diseases.
Oddly enough, we don’t usually think of childhood obesity in the same serious light. Kids don’t get high cholesterol or strokes — plus, those plump cheeks are just too adorable! Experts say, however, that chubby kids are at just as much, if not higher, risk of such illnesses down the road.
“Obese children are exposed to the risk factors for heart disease and stroke, which are diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, for a much longer duration,” endocrinologist Dr Stanley Liew told AsiaOne.
“This long exposure could result in heart disease and stroke in their later life.”
And terrifyingly, it’s actually possible for young kids to develop such conditions. Doctors are now seeing more young children with type 2 diabetes, Associate Professor Lee Yung Seng of the National University of Singapore’s Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine told AsiaOne.
“I’ve seen patients as young as 10 who are obese and have developed diabetes.”
The myth that it’s ‘too early’ to worry about your kids’ weight can seriously endanger your children’s health. Good weight habits are like investments with high returns — the earlier your kids pick them up, the healthier they’ll be for years to come!
Outgrowing Baby Fat Begins At Checking Your Child’s Weight
Children are considered obese when their body mass index (BMI) falls in the 97th percentile and above for their age and gender.
The formula for calculating BMI is similar for kids and adults:
HEIGHT (m) x HEIGHT (m)
Once you’ve calculated your child’s BMI, you can check it against HPB’s BMI-for-age charts for girls and boys.
If your child’s weight falls into at-risk percentiles for obesity, you may want to seek a doctor’s advice before undertaking any lifestyle changes. For weight management inspiration, do also check out some of our handy tips on combating childhood obesity.
ALSO READ: Interview with Dr. Nataniel Viuniski : What you MUST know about childhood obesity in Singapore!