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Can a baby be too fat?

July 16, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Having a child who's a little chubby is cute and could just be baby fat. But some experts say, it could also be the sign that there's a lifelong problem with obesity ahead of them. Now, a growing number of programs are designed to beat the battle of baby fat, but are they necessary?If Sofia Banuet could play non-stop all day, putting on pounds wouldn't be a problem.

She's getting a lesson in proper nutrition. Dr. Wendy Slusser started a program pushing healthy eating and exercise habits for young kids.

"The problem of obesity in pre-school aged children is very concerning," said Dr. Slusser, Pediatric Obesity Specialist.

Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 12 percent of kids ages 2 to 5 are considered obese.

"Certainly the earlier it begins, the more concerned we ought to be, because those children don't generally lose weight as they grow older, but they get fatter," said William Dietz from the CDC.

That's why early intervention programs for parents and kids are popping up all over the country.

Among the biggest: SPARK or "Sports Play and Active Recreation for Kids."

"The philosophy behind our program is that we are doing our best to increase movement," said SPARK trainer Bernadette Garcia-Rogers.

Dr. William Dietz, from the CDC, agrees physical activity is beneficial for some kids, but organized activity isn't always necessary.

"We don't have to train them to move, we have to give them opportunities to move," said Dr. Dietz.

Dr. Dietz also says when it comes to nutrition, educating the parents is the most important step.

Both experts insist formal weight loss programs should be left for extreme cases. If you're concerned about your child, get your pediatrician involved.

"Doctors have a role in diagnosing overweight by calculating the BMI, which is the body mass index," said Dr. Slusser.

Sofia's mom was concerned about her daughter's weight a couple years ago. Now, she's within a normal range and on track for a healthy future.

Dr. Slusser also warns parents to watch for hidden calories in children's snacks and juices. She says as few as 150 extra calories a day, like a cup of grape juice or an ounce of potato chips could pack on unwanted pounds over time.

 

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