I was recently asked by a physician if it is bad for a kid that is really tall to be at the 90th percentile for BMI. Loaded question, right? In this situation the school nurse had mentioned concern about the child’s BMI to the family and the family was not sure how to take that information. I am sure many people experience something similar so I wanted to share my perspective as a dietitian that has worked with lots of families with overweight kiddos. Here are some things to keep in mind when someone mentions one of the “o” words:
- Don’t panic. This is easier said than done. If someone uses one of the “o” words (overweight or obese) it stings. Some people are great at talking about weight in a nonjudgmental and helpful way. Others are lousy at it and make ya feel terrible. Try not to panic if you hear these words. The growth charts are tools that help identify disease risk. Your child will likely be at different percentiles each time they are weighed and measured. One measurement is not as important as trends, but every measurement is an opportunity to become a little bit healthier.
2. School nurses and health care providers, in general, are nice people. A school nurse or pediatrician that addresses your child’s weight is trying to do the right thing. Sometimes messages can come across in a way that will make you wanna go hide in a cave. This is not what is intended, I would almost guarantee it. If your pediatrician heard a heart murmur you would want to know, right? They are focusing on your child’s growth and health, not really their weight.
3. Kids are not adults. The goals for a kiddo that is overweight are much different than those for an overweight adult. The first step for kids is to slow weight gain which does not mean that a kiddo needs to “hit the treadmill” or go on a “diet”.
4. There is no “u” in team. Lifestyle changes are the best way to help all kids lean in the direction of better health. Whether a kiddo is overweight or normal weight all kids like to have fun and no one likes to feel singled out. Playing a game together as a family will be something you can get your kiddo to do again and again and will help you, too. Multitasking win!
5. Growing taller and staying the same weight will lower BMI. The BMI is the body mass index and is a proportion of weight to height (squared). If a kiddo keeps growing taller and gains weight slower than they were previously gaining then their BMI will drop. This will allow your kiddo to trend into a healthier weight range without losing weight.
6. Everyone could eat a little better. It wouldn’t hurt anyone to eat some extra fruits and veggies. Focusing on the things everyone in your family should eat more of will make everyone a little healthier. Pickles are a vegetable. ‘Nuff said.
7. When in doubt, just count. Backwards. And leave out some numbers. Ever heard of “5-2-1-0”? If not, you will. It is pure genius. This is the catchy phrase of the Let’s Go! program that was implemented in Maine and has taken the rest of the states by storm. It is a simple way to remember to focus on taking in five fruits and veggies daily, limiting screen time to two or fewer hours (more time to be active!) per day, being active for an hour every day and eliminating sugar-sweetened beverages. For more info visit http://www.letsgo.org/.
What are some things that you do to help increase your activity and fruit and veggie intake? What do you think about the “o” words? I’d love to hear in the comments section below!Connect with Radishes Are Pink on social media: