If you often wonder "Why is my child losing weight?" it's time to take a serious look at your child's physical and mental health. Here's why.
As a mother your worst nightmare is to see your child thinning down rapidly. ‘Why is my child losing weight’ keeps haunting you. Even though you may be taking care of his food, physical activities and sleep, your child’s weight loss could be a major cause of concern.
“How much should he ideally weigh? Am I not feeding my child enough? Is he unwell? Why is my child losing weight?,” you may wonder.
If you are noticing an unexplained weight loss in your kid and pondering these questions, then read on.
Why is my child losing weight: Beyond the basics
Fluctuation on the weighing scale in relation to kids is quite normal. But if your child unexpectedly experiences weight loss at a rapid pace, it can be worrisome for parents.
For tweens and teenagers, puberty plays a crucial role in unexplained weight loss.
Their hormones spark various physical changes including testicular enlargement in boys and breast development in girls as well as growth spurts in height. These bodily changes also lead to sudden loss of weight.
Children also often lose weight if they burn calories easily, or do not eat healthy enough or are suffering from an illness or if their metabolism is low.
Either way, an unexpected weight loss can have adverse effects on a child’s health and overall growth and development.
But before you jump the gun and assume that there is something wrong with your child, let’s first understand how the health of a person is determined by his/her weight and may differ based on that.
What should be my child’s ideal weight?
To check if your child is healthy or unwell you will have to check his body mass index (BMI). It helps you know if your child’s weight is ideal for his height and age.
You can either visit your doctor or purchase a BMI calculator for your kid and use it to check your kids’ body fat content and ideal weight at home.
Dr Nancy Tan, consultant pediatrician at SBCC Baby and Child Clinic at Gleneagles Medical Centre, earlier spoke to theAsianparent and explained how BMI works.
Here’s what she said:
Body Mass Index or BMI is a measurement used to calculate whether or not a person is underweight, overweight or obese based on their weight and height. Body Mass Index is calculated by dividing a person’s body weight by their height squared; however there are variations based on the age of the person and their race.
Due to different body types, it is recommended that the overweight threshold for South East Asians is lowered compared to Western counterparts.
In addition, BMI is measured differently amongst children than adults. The calculation remains the same but the comparison to determine a healthy weight range, is made with children of the same sex and age rather than the general population.
With all of these factors in mind, BMI can be a complicated measure for you to use at home when trying to determine if your child is within a healthy weight range. If you are concerned your child is over or under weight, you should consult your family doctor who will be able to advise.
Read a BMI chart
Now, each BMI chart measure is divided into percentile. So if your child’s weight percentile is less than 5, your kid is underweight.
This is also usually how doctors will determine if your child needs help with diet and physical activity in case he is losing weight.
They may recommend certain dietary measures and special exercises for him to gain healthy weight for his age and height.
But if your child’s sudden weight loss is accompanied by one or a host of illnesses, then that is a reason to worry. So the next thing to do is to track changes in your child’s daily routine and diet as well as check for possible illnesses.
What are the possible causes of weight loss in kids?
Many kids lose weight quickly if they exhibit the following symptoms along with unintentional and rapid loss of weight. In most cases, weight loss may just be the first indicator of a bigger underlying medical problem.
Therefore, these shouldn’t be ignored as mere ‘changes’ in a child’s body.
- Decreased urination
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Cold and cough
- Sore throat
- Chest and ear pain
- Increased sleepiness or sleeplessness
- Eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia
- Childhood cancer
- Gastrointestinal issues
If you notice any of these changes or illnesses, rush your kid to a doctor immediately. However, if your child doesn’t have any of these issues but is still losing weight, it may because of lack of proper nutrition.
How to increase my child’s weight?
In order to increase your child’s weight and help him put on some extra kilos, you may want to change his diet.
With the addition of healthy fats, fibre as well an increase in essential nutrients and minerals, your child may reach his ideal weight.
- Give your kid a minimum of five portions of different varieties of fruits and vegetables
- Meals that are carbohydrate rich including rice, potato, bread and even pasta
- Include dairy in your kid’s meal including milk and milk products
- Add protein-rich foods such as eggs, fish, beans as well as pulses
- Also make sure to give him plenty of fluids and a minimum of 10 glasses of water
Apart from these dietary measures, make sure that your kid is well rested and leads a stress-free life. His psychological health is also a crucial factor in his physical health.