I wanted to expand upon a recent article in the Globe and Mail. A reader posed the question: “My six-year-old daughter is overweight. I remember being chubby when I was her age, and I eventually grew out of it. Should I be worried, or just let her be?”
The pediatrician responding to the question made some solid suggestions. He also advised having the child weighed and measured by her doctor to determine if her weight is high enough to warrant concern. There was one thing that he neglected to mention that I felt the need to point out.
I recalled learning about weight gain at around six years of age in my Nutrition Through the Life Cycle course. I hauled out my textbook and there it was: “This increase in percent body fat (sic 16% in females and 13% in males), which usually occurs on average at 6.0 – 6.3 years of age, is called adiposity rebound or BMI rebound.
Not knowing the weight and height of the child in question I can’t say whether or not her weight should be a concern to her mother. However, I think that it’s worth taking into consideration that weight gain at this age is normal and that what may be seen as “chubby” is just preparation for a growth spurt. It’s great for parents to be concerned about their child’s health and well-being but we also need to take care not to instil in them self esteem issues and unhealthy attitudes towards food and exercise that will never be outgrown.