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The number of underweight and obese kids in the UK today is on the rise. Neither of the two is fine, as there is a correlation between the weight and health of a child. Being overweight or underweight is one of the first things to tackle when ensuring the health of a child.

However, one major problem in our society is that people don’t even know when their kids are overweight or underweight. If you fall into this category, then this article is for you.

I will also explain ways by which parents and guardians can effectively monitor and maintain a healthy weight for their children.

What is an unhealthy weight?

Before I go on, it only makes sense to state what constitutes a healthy weight. There are many kids that are obese and underweight now, and their parents don’t even know it. The general consensus is that a child has to be very visibly big or skinny before they can be considered overweight or underweight. This is simply untrue.

Mere looking at a child is not enough to accurately tell if a child is overweight or underweight. There are several ways to tell, but the most convenient is through the BMI (Body Mass Index). BMI is based on both the weight and the height of an individual and is calculated as the body mass divided by the square of body height. It is expressed as kg/m2.

Having a BMI below 18.5 is underweight, and having one above 30.0 is overweight. Everything in between is considered normal weight. If the BMI is more than 30.0, the person is said to be obese.

How weight affects health in children

When a child has an unhealthy weight, the chances of having different health issues rapidly increases. There are two facets to having an unhealthy weight – underweight and overweight.

Health effects of being underweight

Children under the age of 12 are still very much in their growing years. They need sufficient calories and nutrients from food to support the growth occurring in their body. If the amounts of calories and nutrients they take are not enough, the child may become underweight. Underweight kids are prone to constant body fatigue, weakness, and incessant illnesses. The implication of this is frequent trips to the doctor, fainting, and spending a lot of money trying to get them in shape. The bones of these kids may also not be strong enough and break when stressed.

People often overlook being overweight, seeing it as lesser to being overweight. This ideology is wrong, as underweight kids are also prone to a variety of health issues. Their social life is affected because they typically cannot keep up with the physical activities their peers perform. Low glucose level may also cause a lack of concentration in school and other gatherings.

Health effects of being overweight

Obesity levels in the world are rapidly increasing, and the UK is not an exception. This is very concerning when one considers the number of health challenges associated with it. Overweight kids are very likely to become overweight adults, and this is where several health issues start to kick in.

According to the UK national statistics, obesity is linked to Type 2 diabetes. Eighty percent of people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. Studies show that obese men and women are 5 and 13 times more likely to become diabetic, respectively. Not to mention the added risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and other heart conditions. The risk of cancer and dementia is also high.

Don’t get me wrong. The chances of having these conditions for a child is low, but the chances of becoming an overweight adult are high, which then corresponds to a high chance of having these conditions. Notwithstanding, doctors have claimed that the number of children with these conditions is increasing, especially heart conditions.

There are also social and mental problems associated with being overweight. Overweight kids are more prone to developing serious mental conditions, including depression than normal-weight kids.

Maintaining the right weight

It is easier to prevent getting overweight or underweight than to correct it. The best way to maintain the right weight from scratch is by eating a balanced diet. A balanced diet supplies the right amount of energy, in the form of calories, that the body needs. If the required balance is not reached amongst the classes of food in a child’s diet, their development will be stunted.

For overweight and underweight kids, care is needed when trying to return to normal weight. Don’t force them to make drastic dietary changes, rather incorporate the required changes slowly and carefully. Many parents and guardians also make the mistake of stuffing underweight kids with sugar and junk foods in a bid to bulk up fast. Doing this will only result in more health issues. Be patient but steady in your approach.

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