Babies on diets? Now I've heard it all.
Yes, childhood obesity is a big and growing problem.
But putting babies on diets is not the solution.
Recent news stories have called attention to a phenomenon -- without saying how widespread it is -- in which parents restrict their babies' diets to ward off chubbiness. Apparently for some it's a matter of aesthetics; one story cites a father who raves about how skinny his infant daughter is. Others, though, restrict their babies' food intake so the children won't go on to be chubby children -- or overweight adults.
There is some cause for concern, according to a study published in March 2009 in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers at Harvard University found that babies who rapidly gained weight (out of proportion to how their length increased) during their first 6 months were at dramatically increased risk of being obese at age 3. The study further found that the rate of early weight gain might better predict future obesity than weight at birth does.
But the American Academy of Pediatrics maintains that babies need extra fat and calories in their early months; their physical and mental development depends on it.
If you're concerned about your baby's weight, you should talk with your pediatrician. The doctor will tell you whether your concerns are well-founded and steer you toward a feeding regimen that makes sense for your child.
As that Harvard study noted, birth weight can be deceptive. I was an enormous infant: I weighed -- are you sitting down? -- 10 pounds, 8 ounces when I was delivered. Yes, I have struggled with a few extra pounds (but not obesity) for most of my life, but today I'm five-foot-four and weigh 133 pounds. I'm sure my size shocked my poor mom, but I'm also sure she never considered putting me on a diet.
We parents are bombarded with news, some of it seemingly conflicting, about kids and their weight. We're told that childhood obesity is widespread, but we also hear that eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are growing more prevalent. It's a terribly tricky thicket to navigate, and all any of us can do is our best.
"Our best" should, of course, include modeling good eating, exercise and sleep habits for our kids and making sure they have access to healthful food, opportunities for physical activity and sound medical care. After that, we should probably just try to relax and enjoy them, wherever they may fall on the skinny/chubby scale.
(While we're talking about enjoying babies, I can't resist mentioning one of the cutest kids on TV right now, baby "Hope" on Fox's "Raising Hope." That baby has an adorable fold of fat or two, which is exactly as it should be.)
Readers, care to share your insights on chubby -- or less-chubby -- babies? Please leave a comment, and don't forget to vote in today's poll!
Jennifer LaRue Huget
| December 2, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Childhood obesity, Eating disorders, Family Health, Infant health, Kids' health, Me Minus 10, Motherhood, Nutrition and Fitness, Obesity, Parenting
Save & Share: Previous: Controversial 'ella' contraceptive now available in U.S. for first time
Next: Is that right? Jimmy Dean breakfast will make you shine?
Posted by: Sanura1333 | December 2, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: kathrynmerry | December 3, 2010 4:15 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: zeptattoo | December 3, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: newmom2009 | December 3, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: bubba777 | December 3, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: chuangjian2010 | December 6, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse