Baby fat or obesity?
Dr. Steve Narang, MD, is the CEO of Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. For more information on this topic, talk with your doctor or call (480) 412-5437 (KIDS).
Question: How do I know if my son just has some “baby fat,” or if he could have an obesity problem?
Answer: Most small children carry some extra fat on their bodies as part of normal development. As they grow, the amount of fat in their bodies changes, as their bones and muscles develop and replace some of the fat that helped nourish them as babies.
The best way to monitor your child's growth and make sure that his weight and body fat is balanced with his age and size is to visit your pediatrician for regular well-child visits. At these appointments, your doctor will measure your child's height, weight and head circumference and plot these figures on a chart. At each visit, new measurements are added to the chart, which gives your doctor an overall picture of your son's growth. Also, your doctor may share percentiles with you, which provide an idea of how many children, on average, are larger or smaller than your son.
When reviewing your son's development, your doctor will look for certain trends, such as changes in weight that match changes in height. You and your doctor can discuss any issues or questions regarding eating habits and activity levels. If your child's weight or body fat is a concern, your doctor may request additional check-ups and if necessary, will work with you to create a food and exercise plan appropriate for your son.
In addition to regular visits to your pediatrician, you have the power to help prevent obesity by teaching your son healthy eating habits, including offering him whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy products. Also, make sure he gets daily exercise and plenty of rest today to give his body the energy to be active tomorrow.