Saturday, July 4, 2009

So according to the latest study and front page news, Minnesota’s kids are the least fat in America, but still its time to panic? All that concern and worry may be bad for your kids’ health.

Here are a few facts:

Most children (until the age of about 12 or 13) even with BMI over 95% will not become obese adults.

5 pounds might take a child from “normal” weight to “obese” on the charts. Bianca, pictured above is "overweight" according to BMI chart labels. 

The American Heart Association states that BMI is not a good predictor of health.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force reviewed 50 years of studies and found no evidence that traditional screening and intervening for childhood obesity works.

By relying on BMI alone, we miss the picture and make the problem worse. Healthy kids are often  mislabeled. “Normal” weight kids who watch 8 hours of TV a day and eat a brownie and Diet Coke for breakfast are ignored.

 Is there a problem? Sure there is. The rates of childhood obesity have increased, many children are malnourished, two-thirds of teenagers are dieting and end up heavier because of it.  Parents who worry about their children’s weight are more likely to restrict and control and have bigger kids-the very outcome they were trying to prevent.

 Feeding Dynamics is the missing piece

The Director for the Center for Childhood Obesity Research says we need to focus on “child-feeding practices” but this is largely ignored. As a physician, now feeding coach, I believe that how we feed is the missing piece.

We need to focus on healthy behaviors for everyone. Kids need to be fed with structure and love in a pleasant setting with a positive attitude about a wide variety of foods. We don’t need first-graders counting fat grams, or feeling shameful when they enjoy a treat. Children should not graze all day, and they should enjoy family meals with the TV off. Children should not diet or aim to lose weight. Let’s bring joy, common sense and balance back to the family table and turn our backs on the misguided hysteria and strategies that have failed for the last thirty years.

1 comment:

  1. I am grateful for your specific attention to the BMI as a limiting factor in assessing health. And of course, appreciate the emphasis on bringing "joy, common sense and balance" back to the table!

    Weekend Edition on NPR, also highlighted the limitations with the BMI. "Top 10 Reasons Why the BMI Is Bogus"