Obesity is a well known problem amongst the adult population of many western countries but, much more worrying, is the alarming rise in obesity being seen in our children at younger and younger ages.
Obesity is typically assessed initially by eye and is then measured in terms of your body mass index (BMI) which is a simple calculation made using your height and weight. In the case of children however the rate at which an individual child grows, and the presence of such things as ‘puppy’ fat, mean that judging obesity simply by eye doesn't work. Additionally, conventional BMI calculations don't give a true result either and it is necessary to track BMI for a child over a period of time and to assess BMI measurements against a set of special charts produced by the federal government.
For this reason it is essential that your doctor measures and records your child's height and weight as part of a routine check-up and that the doctor monitors the progression of these over time.
Unfortunately, all too many doctors fail to do this, frequently quoting a lack of time as the reason, both in terms of the time taken to make the measurements and of the time taken to explain the child's progress to the parents. Some doctors also feel that there is little point in counseling parents as their advice is often ignored.
Well, time or no time, it is part of your doctor's job to monitor your child's health fully and you have a right to expect that this will include monitoring your child's weight. Whatever the doctor's reason for not carrying out this work, once your child has put on too much weight it is extremely difficult to change the lifestyle habits that have caused this situation and to get that weight off again.
Obesity is not simply a problem in itself but can be the start of a whole series of problems for your child including diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems. In the vast majority of cases however all of this can be avoided quite easily and part of the secret lies in knowing when the problem is developing.
So, next time you take your child to the doctor don't be afraid to bring up the subject of BMI tracking and make sure that your doctor is giving you the service your child needs.
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