The Overweight Child
Standard child obesity diagnosis guidelines are absolute. You do not have to go by those rules, but neither should you deny it if your child has a weight problem. Don't worry about having to put your child on a diet. Instead, do an excellent job with feeding.
Child weight guidelines according to health policy, which is followed by most health professionals
- Overweight: Child's BMI is at or above the 85th percentile
- Obese: Child's BMI is at or above the 95th percentile.
Child weight guidelines according to the Satter Feeding Dyanmics Model (fdSatter)
- Normal weight: Child's weight follows along a particular percentile, even if it plots at or above the 95th percentile.
- Weight could be a problem: Child's weight accelelerates: it crosses percentiles going up. More than likely that problem is caused by errors in following the Division of Responsibilty in Feeding.
It's not your genes
Children whose parents have high body weight are categorized as being "at risk" of obesity by policy makers. Don't panic. Your doing a good job with feeding will let your child grow up to get the body that is right for him. You mgiht have passed along the genes for fatness. However, those genes only let him get too fat. They don't make him get too fat.
Errors in feeding can make genetically vulnerable children too fat
What are those errors in feeding?
- Lack of structure
- Interference with what and/or how much the child eats
- Both together
Don't try get your child to eat less and slim down
Instead, support his normal pattern of growth. Do an excellent job with feeding, parent reliably and well, and let your child grow in his own special way.
To provide support without interfering with feeding, maintain a division of responsibility in feeding. You manage the what, when and where of feeding and trust your child to do the how much and whether of eating from what you put on the table.
Throughout your child’s growing-up years, feed in a developmentally appropriate fashion.
To provide structure without interfering with activity, maintain a division of responsibility in activity: You provide structure, safety and opportunities. Your child chooses how much and whether to move and the manner of moving.
For more about raising children who eat as much as they need and get bodies that are right for them (and for research backing up this advice), see Ellyn Satter's Your Child's Weight: Helping Without Harming, Kelcy Press, 2005. Also see www.EllynSatterInstitute.org/store to purchase books and to review comprehensive educational materials that teach stage-related feeding and solve feeding problems.
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