Warning signs for child’s weight gain

As a parent, you may wonder when you should be concerned about your child’s weight. While there is no specific “problem” weight, you can determine risk for medical problems related to obesity by comparing height and weight for age (BMI percentile for age). This is not easy to do without access to a growth chart that can track BMI percentile.

View the BMI Percentile Calculator for Child and Teen from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

We begin to be concerned for children who have BMI above the 85th percentile for age (like BMI >25 for adults). Yearly visits with your child’s pediatrician/primary care provider allow you to review these numbers/growth charts and track your child’s trends over time. What if your child hasn’t been to a visit with his/her pediatrician recently or isn’t due for a visit for some time? If you have concerns, discuss them with your child’s pediatrician — don’t wait for the next annual checkup.

Tell your child’s health care provider if you notice:

  • Weight gain attributed to new medications
  • Pain with exercise
  • Your child not keeping up with peers at recess or in gym class
  • Not meeting usual age-related benchmarks not related to any other medical condition
  • Your child has reported being bullied at school — especially about weight
  • Breathing problems at night, snoring or restless sleep
  • Shortness of breath in everyday activities
  • Change in behavior with food (hiding/sneaking food)
  • Rapid weight gain without any obvious reason
  • Child expresses concern about weight or wants to start “dieting”

See tips on how to discuss healthy lifestyle habits (instead of weight) with your child.

If you don’t have any weight-related concerns but want to be proactive in helping your family be positive about food, the intensity of our full Pediatric Weight Management program may not be the right fit for you. However, improved feeding practices can help children/families of all shapes and sizes.

Feeding with Love and Good Sense is a class that we offer that teaches parents how to provide a positive and friendly meal environment through structured meals. Our team also works closely with and provides education for local pediatricians and family medicine providers so they can be the first step in helping you prevent excess weight in your child.

Andrew Maloney, MD, Pediatrician
CentraCare Clinic – Health Plaza Pediatrics and
Pediatric Weight Management – LifeStyle Health