Diagnosing Obesity at 9 Months?
A doctor featured on the Today Show this morning quoted research indicating 32% of infants are obese at nine months, a rate increaing to 34% at two years. Really? Obesity may be an epidemic in this country but this is going a bit too far. Can we even diagnose obesity at this age? And if we can, should we?
Childhood obesity is defined as 95th percentile BMI (Body Mass Index). Many babies whether exclusively breastfed, formula fed or a mix of he two, surpass this mark within their first year of life. In my own family, babies have historically ranged in the 95th-100th percentile and gone on to be low to average weight in later years. We’ve always described these babies as healthy, as in they’ve got what they need to survive.
Babies need body fat to protect their little organs and to regulate temperature. They also need plenty of fat in their diet for brain development, energy and growth. If we set off the obesity alarm, concerned parents (and I’m not talking about the ones giving their infants soda and fries) are going to start restricting diets and panicking about their infants’ voracious appetites. Early disruption in the feeding process can set the stage for a lifelong struggle with food.
Eating habits do start at a young age and the best thing you can do is model healthy eating and establish a healthy feeding relationship with your child. Ellyn Satter, LICSW, RD (www.ellynsatter.com) has looked at the research on childhood obesity and says there is no correlation between obesity in a child and obesity in adulthood until age six. A child, even an infant, needs to know that he/she is in charge of how much nourishment comes into the body. If parents start restricting infants and toddlers eating at such a young age it will set the stage for overeating at any opportunity.
Here’s a summary of Darshak Sanghavi’s inverview and the study he quotes http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40856449.