Statistics for 2008 show that an estimated 10 percent or more of children aged 2 to 5 years old are obese. (1) Infants and children with overweight or obesity issues are at increased risk of growing into adult with overweight or obesity issues.
With overweight and obesity comes the added risk for developing Type II Diabetes (insulin dependent), high blood pressure, asthma, obstructive sleep apnea, and several other weight-related conditions.
Since the CDC does not have overweight and obesity body mass index guidelines for children under the age of two, doctors use those developed by the World Health Organization.
Facts about Obesity and Overweight in Infants and Toddlers
• A child is considered obese when his/her body mass index (BMI) is at or greater than the 95th percentile on his/her growth chart. (2)
• 9.5 percent of children under the age of two are considered obese. (2)
• 1 in 5 (20 percent) of children 2 to 5 years old is overweight or obese by the time they enter kindergarten. (4)
Risk Factors for Obesity and Overweight in Infants and Toddlers
• A recent study has shown that nearly twice as many formula-fed babies were considered obese compared to babies who were breastfed (13 percent versus 7 percent). (5)
• Introducing solid food before 48 months of age in formula-fed babies can lead to a six-fold increase in the risk of becoming obese at 3 years old, compared to formula-fed babies who didn’t eat solid food until they were between 4 and 5 months old. (6)
• Pre-pregnancy or pregnancy-related overweight, obesity, blood pressure or gestational diabetes history in the mother can be a factor.
• Overeating during pregnancy may contribute to childhood obesity.
• Not enough sleep can be a factor.
• Not enough physical activity can help cause childhood obesity.
• There is an increased incidence of overweight and obesity in American Indians, Mexicans or non-Hispanic blacks. (7)
Prevention of Obesity and Overweight in Infants and Toddlers
So, what can you do to prevent your infant or toddler from becoming overweight or obese?
• C-sections should be avoided unless there is a medical reason to have one.