Thoughtful Parenting: What is a healthy weight for your child?

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At a glance

Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0

■ 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables

■ 2 or fewer hours of recreational screen time

■ 1 or more hours of physical activity

■ 0 sugary drinks

Online: www.letsgo.org

Source: LiveWell Colorado

One of the most talked about health issues today is the increase in the number of children who are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity now is recognized as a national health problem. In Colorado, 23 percent of children ages 2 to 14 are overweight or obese, making Colorado the 23rd-leanest state for children. The state formerly was ranked third.

Research indicates that obesity can lead to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, asthma and sleep apnea, and it has been associated with decreased academic performance and social stigma issues.

LiveWell Colorado, a nonprofit organization committed to reducing and preventing obesity in Colorado, found that many Coloradans have a difficult time identifying obesity, often associating the issue with images of the morbidly obese as seen on TV shows like “The Biggest Loser.” Overweight children who are at risk for health issues look like the children you see every day at school or in the community. The issue no longer is about vanity or labeling; it is about understanding your child’s risk and then taking steps to prevent short- and long-term health consequences.

Parents can take steps to find out whether their children are at a healthy body weight to prevent potential long term health issues. Body mass index is an inexpensive screening that can help you understand if your child’s body weight is healthy. It is calculated from your child’s height and weight and the number is plotted on age growth charts to obtain a percentile ranking. The percentile indicates the relative position of your child’s BMI among children of the same sex and age.

■ Underweight: less than fifth percentile.

■ Healthy weight: fifth to less than the 85th percentile.

■ Overweight: 85th to less than the 95th percentile.

■ Obese: equal to or greater than the 95th percentile.

BMI is a screening that is regularly done at your child’s wellness check. It is important to discuss results from BMI screenings with your doctor much like you do with other growth indicators and screenings. Our local pediatricians and family doctors are well aware of obesity increases in our community, and they have the knowledge to help you understand BMI to aid you in helping your child maintain a healthy weight. As a general prevention and health guideline, use Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 to guide you in making healthy eating and active living choices for your child every day.

Barb Parnell is the LiveWell Northwest Colorado community coordinator. She can be reached at bparnell@nwcovna.org.

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