Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last few decades. In the late 1970s, 6.5 percent of 6- to 11-year-olds were obese. In 2008 it was almost 20 percent. Nearly one in five kids over the age of two is now obese.
Heavier children are more likely to be heavy as adults, and some research indicates that if weight problems start before the age of eight, obesity in adulthood is more likely to be severe. Not only that, higher childhood BMI (body mass index) is connected to greater risk of type-2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Last week, a large study found that the population is becoming heavier as early as nine months old. Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, researchers analyzed measurements from over 16,000 nine-month- and two-year-olds born in 2001. They found that 32 percent of the babies were over the 85th percentile, and 17 percent were over the 95th. The breakdown was similar at age two.
If the trend towards heaviness begins early on and has far-reaching consequences, then it makes sense to lay the groundwork for good habits when your child is young. Here is some healthy food for thought:
1. Start in pregnancy.
Evidence is growing that there is a connection between pregnancy weight gain, birth weight, and childhood weight . Most likely through chemical changes to the brain and metabolism, moms who go far outside their recommended pounds can pass on the tendency for weight gain to their kids. (Though of course you don't want to go under the recommended weight gain either.) Also consider that the foods you eat in pregnancy influence your developing baby's palate. Only able to eat bread and peanut butter while you're carrying? No, your little one isn't destined for only PB&Js, but flavors are known to transmit through amniotic fluid, so think about throwing in not only healthy whole foods, but Thai or Japanese every so often if the mood strikes. Your baby might just end up loving wasabi.
2. Breastfeed if you can.
There is evidence that breastfeeding moderately lowers the risk of being overweight. And the growth chart for breastfed babies is different, with weight gain increasing faster on average with formula-fed babies , starting at around three to six months of age. If you're formula feeding, think about offering smaller, more frequent bottles instead of large servings all at once.
When you breastfeed, your baby samples your food as well - eat spinach or garlic and your milk will pass on the flavor. Remember this applies even when you're supplementing with formula.3. Start with veggies, skip the rice cereal.
The most recent thinking on solids is that rice cereal only familiarizes babies with the taste of processed simple carbohydrates. Consider starting with steamed and pureed vegetables, brown rice, or oatmeal. Babies get almost all their nutrients through breast milk or formula through the first year of life , so there's no need to load up on calories from solids. Consider moving towards versions of your own table food once your baby reaches 9 months or so.
To view more steps you can take to prevent childhood obesity, visit Babble.MORE ON BABBLE:
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