ISLAMABAD: From baffling BMI charts to concerns about self-esteem and fussy eaters, if you're confused about child obesity you're not alone. We asked the experts everything you need to know.

With a new warning from global health authorities, parents are battling to cope with the threat of childhood obesity to their children.
 
It’s hard to ignore the headlines about child obesity – but it can feel even harder to know what to do about it.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned we’re facing a “global obesity epidemic” after a study found that there’s been a tenfold increase in the number of obese and overweight children and teens over the last 40 years.

This means our children are facing a greater risk of developing future health problems such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, as well as issues including back and joint pain.

While it’s easy to spout off scary statistics and health warnings, it’s not so easy knowing how to approach these things as a parent – especially when there’s so much conflicting advice around.

We’ve asked some trusted experts to clear things up…

I’m so confused about BMI charts – are they accurate or not?

Yes and no. “BMI charts are the standard way of checking for a healthy weight as they give you a ratio of the best weight for your height,” says NHS weight-loss consultant surgeon Dr Sally Norton (vavistalife.com).

“However, it’s not completely accurate in adults as it’s not a measure of fat, and very muscular people are heavier. It’s even less accurate in kids as they grow at different rates.”

She adds: “Make sure you use a specific BMI chart for children but, even so, just take it as a guide. The best way to tell if your child is overweight is by looking at them. For example, do they have a roll of fat around the midriff?

“Babies and toddlers are a different matter, of course. And kids sometimes grow out a bit before they shoot up – so a bit of padding shouldn’t be a cause for immediate alarm, especially if you and your family are active and eat well.

“But if you have weight issues yourself, you should be a little more concerned, as children of overweight parents have an 80% chance of being overweight themselves. So now could be a good time to overhaul your own diet and exercise, along with the family’s.”