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Weighty Issue

A reader worries about her toddler’s weight.

QUESTION:

My husband says our son, aged two, is fat. He points to our little boy’s pot belly and says he’s headed for obesity. Personally I think that’s the natural shape of a healthy toddler, he has a good diet and snacks such as fruit and cheese are essential, to keep energy levels high for growth and learning. He is short (83cm tall, weight 13kg) but active and happy. Should I be concerned?

ANSWER:

When trying to work out where your child sits on the Australian and New Zealand Growth Charts, relative to other children his age, you need accurate measurements and a precise age (to the month rather than the year).

If he is only just two, you need not be concerned. He is shorter than average, most (80 per cent) of boys his age are taller. But he is still taller than the shortest 20 per cent.

If he is two years and six months he is taller than about three per cent of boys his age and that is a concern. If he is almost three then he is abnormally short and warrants investigation.

His weight is considerably high for his height and age. See a doctor to check how fast his height and weight are increasing. The problem may be short stature, which should be investigated. If he is simply overweight, this should be addressed now because it may cause him to be obese all his life and prone to many conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis.

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Relationships Australia (SA) appoints panels of general practitioners, medical specialists, lawyers, therapeutic and financial counsellors to discuss each letter before the appropriate professional answers it.

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