Know­ing your body weight sta­tus

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - BRIGHT KIDS -

PAR­ENTS should al­ways pro­vide their chil­dren with op­ti­mal nu­tri­tion and en­sure that they are phys­i­cally fit. But how can par­ents de­ter­mine if their chil­dren are eat­ing right and grow­ing well? Here are some tips to help par­ents out.

En­ergy bal­ance con­cept

Are en­ergy and calo­ries the same? En­ergy is re­leased from food and bev­er­age com­po­nents known as car­bo­hy­drate, pro­tein and fat and it is mea­sured in units called calo­ries.

En­ergy bal­ance is a re­la­tion­ship be­tween “En­ergy In” (from food and bev­er­age that we in­gest) and “En­ergy Out” (through phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties, basal meta­bolic rate (BMR), di­ges­tion and ab­sorp­tion of nu­tri­ents in our body). The first im­por­tant prin­ci­ple of en­ergy in­take must be es­ti­mated on the ba­sis of en­ergy out rather than en­ergy in.

Why bal­ance it up?

Healthy eat­ing and reg­u­lar phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties (ac­cu­mu­la­tion of 60 min­utes of mod­er­ate in­ten­sity phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity daily) are im­por­tant com­po­nents for re­duc­ing the risk of obe­sity and re­lated non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases (NCDs) such as di­a­betes, high-blood pres­sure and high choles­terol.

When the amount of your child’s En­ergy In and En­ergy Out are the same, then his weight will stay the same.

But, if the amount of your child’s En­ergy In is greater than his En­ergy Out, he will gain weight. This, if left un­treated, can lead to obe­sity. On the other hand, if the amount of your child’s En­ergy In is less than his En­ergy Out, he will lose weight.

Health risks re­lated to un­healthy body weight

Childhood obe­sity is as­so­ci­ated with a higher chance of pre­ma­ture death and dis­abil­ity in adult­hood. Over­weight and obese chil­dren are more likely to stay obese into adult­hood and de­velop NCDs such as di­a­betes and car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases at a younger age.

In ad­di­tion to in­creased fu­ture risks, obese chil­dren ex­pe­ri­ence breath­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, in­creased risks of bone frac­tures, hy­per­ten­sion and in­sulin re­sis­tance.

The BMI cal­cu­la­tor

The Body Mass In­dex (BMI) cal­cu­la­tor is a sim­ple and ef­fec­tive way to mon­i­tor your child’s growth. The BMI cal­cu­la­tor en­sures that he is at the right weight and height for his age. Par­ents of­ten com­pare their child’s growth with other chil­dren. This should not be done as chil­dren grow at dif­fer­ent rates. Here is how you mea­sure your child’s BMI: 1. Mea­sure you child’s height and weight 2. Use the for­mula to cal­cu­late his BMI 3. Com­pare your child’s BMI to the stan­dard growth chart from the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion. Boys and girls have dif­fer­ent charts so re­mem­ber to use the ap­pro­pri­ate one. 4. Us­ing a pen­cil, find your child’s age on the hor­i­zon­tal axis of the chart and move ver­ti­cally up. 5. Find your child’s BMI on the ver­ti­cal axis and move hor­i­zon­tally across to the right of the chart. 6. At the point where th­ese two lines meet, draw a small cross or dot. The re­gion where the small cross or dot falls on in­di­cates your child’s growth sta­tus.

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