Is your child underweight or overweight?

In Australia a Dietician Rebecca Byrne, at Queensland University of Technology lead a study and asked 276 mothers to describe their 12-16 month old toddlers as either underweight, normal weight or overweight.

Astonishingly most mothers under estimate their child’s weight and are putting their child’s health at risk. The shocking statistics came back and only a small number 4 per cent of the toddlers were described as being too heavy, the truth was that 32 per cent were in fact overweight.

The same mismatch was true at the other end of the scale, 27 mothers considered their children were too thin, when only one was underweight and the rest were a normal size.

These findings were revealed to the International Congress of Dietetics in Sydney, Byrne who did the research said local mums were generally worried that their babies and toddlers were not eating enough.

The perception was that a chubby baby was a healthy baby, this is particularly true in Italy. In fact the Italian child is thought to be more ‘beautiful’ if they are chubby. Parents feel their chubby children will grow up and lose this ‘chubbiness’ or ‘puppy fat’.  Unfortunately this was not the case, the weight was sticking throughout childhood and producing overweight adults.

Mums often have concerns that their children are not eating enough, and often pressure them to eat everything on their plate, or often bribe them with dessert or treats so that they eat ‘something’. This is not necessary, a baby or child is able to self-regulate, as a parent it is your job to provide healthy nutritional food.

Babies will stop when they’ve had enough to eat and so will most toddlers, parents just need to recognise that some days they ‘go off their food’ but this is usually only temporary thing. It is the same when they have a growth spurt, they will ate you at of house and home or constantly require feeding.

Parents should try to limit juice intake if their child is refusing meals or give smaller portions and limit milk intake in children over a year.

The best way for parents to keep check on their children is through health and development record books, where babies’ heights and weights are plotted at various times during the first years of life.

This gives you an accurate idea of whether your baby’s weight is appropriate for their height.

What concerns do you have regarding your child’s food intake/your child’s diet?