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April 8, 2014

Chubby Cheeks

by Mary Jo DiLonardo

Recently, a friend of a friend posted on social media about her toddler’s visit to the pediatrician. The doctor said the little girl was overweight and the mom just laughed it off. She said she loved her daughter’s chubby cheeks and she’d worry about it later. Maybe.

It’s an interesting dilemma. Babies are supposed to have baby fat. They’re supposed to have cute little dimples and tubby bellies. But when is a little one actually overweight?

You can’t necessarily tell if a child is at a healthy weight just by looking — and beautiful weight can be in the eye of the beholder. That’s why pediatricians have growth charts and use them to chart height and weight as kids grow. Once kids hit two years old, doctors use those measurements to start tracking BMI.

If something is off track, they can talk to parents with any concerns. In my friend of a friend’s case, she didn’t care. And that’s her choice, of course. But studies keep finding that overweight kids become overweight adults. More and more kids are experiencing weight-related health problems — like heart disease — that used to only show up in grown-ups.

My son was a tubby baby for a very brief time. Now he’s a tall, lanky teenager with record-defying metabolism. Chubbiness can indeed go away, but we never received any doctor’s warnings.

If you want to do some measuring of your own, here’s a BMI calculator. I also dug up some interesting stories about keeping your child’s weight in perspective and a look at if toddlers can be overweight.

What would you — or did you — do if your pediatrician told you your toddler was too big?

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