Children and Their Weight
The exact calculation of a healthy weight will be different for each child but generally a healthy weight is determined not simply by a number on a scale, but also by how much a given weight supports him/her in growing, developing and remaining active. Though there are some tables that indicate that at a certain age and height a child should be a certain weight, but this is only half-true. These charts do not take into account factors such as growth rates, build size and muscle mass. Instead of worrying about fitting your child’s weight into a generic category, instead focus on keeping your child healthy and a natural weight will likely fall into place.
The Importance of a Healthy WeightIn modern society it can be confusing to remember what a healthy weight is, much less why it is physically important for children to remain within healthy weight guidelines. Children’s personal weight needs to be tracked so that their unique healthy weight can be determined as an indicator of overall health and development. Maintaining a healthy weight will not only keep children away from becoming worn down and run the risk of illness and infections, but from developing health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, both in the near and distant future.
Guidelines for a Healthy WeightOne commonly accepted method of calculating if a child is at a healthy weight is to divide the child’s weight (in kilograms) by his or her height in meters, squared. This results in a single digit, and this is the child’s Body Mass Index (BMI). Depending upon which percentile the BMI falls into then determines whether or not the child is considered to be at a healthy weight. Your GP will be able to tell you more, and help you determine, your child’s BMI.
Maintaining a Healthy WeightThe two most important factors for maintaining a healthy weight – both in children and adults – are a healthy diet and regular physical activity. Thirty minutes of sport or activity daily is recommended, and the British Nutrition Foundation has developed seven easy rules to follow for better nutrition. These include eating:
- Foods that you and/or your child enjoy
- A variety of foods
- Portion sizes that will result in a health weight for your child.
- Foods rich in starch and fibre
- Lots of fruits and vegetables
- Few fatty foods
- Few sugary foods and drinks
- A third of your child’s daily food intake should be bread, cereal or potatoes.
- 5 different fruits and vegetables per day.
- 2-3 servings of milk or dairy per day.
- Serve sensible portions of meat, fish or alternatives, including 2 servings of fish per week.
- A serving (or less!) of fatty or sugary foods per day, including sugary drinks.
- At least six glasses of water per day, and more if he/she is athletic and active.