Dealing with obesity in toddlers- Are you helping or hurting the child

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Written By Poonam Singh

I am co-founder of and Principal of Cambridge Montessori Preschool Bangalore.

There is no denying the fact that there is an increasing rise in the cases for obesity in toddlers and kids around the age of 2 to 5 years. Although baby fat is adorable and cute, it can soon be the reason for some health concerns. As a parent of a toddler, you might not think about the weight as babies are naturally preferred to be chubby. Being overweight would be the last thing that would be on your mind. 

While the toddler may not be subject to any immediate risk of any severe consequences that may affect his physical or mental health, it is important to note that as obesity increases, it becomes difficult to get it under control. Children’s obesity can also put an emotional toll on them. Overweight children may find it difficult to be active and feel lethargic and fatigued, even if they don’t like it. 

Diagnosing the problem as early as possible will enable you to help the child get the weight under control, reducing the risk of contracting any serious medical conditions. You can help boost the physical and mental health of the child, helping them establish a healthy relationship with food for a lifetime. 

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Myths surrounding obesity in children 

One of the myths surrounding children is that it is usually mistaken as baby fat and they would, later on, maintain a healthy weight naturally. The truth is that even if childhood obesity does not lead to excess weight gain in the future, it increases the chances of an increase in weight soon. 

Identifying obesity and overweight 

Not all children who are plumpy and chubby are obese. Some children naturally have a larger body frame than others. At different stages of childhood, the kid has a difference in total body fat. It might be difficult for you to assess if the child is suffering from weight issues.

Being obese can trigger a lot of serious health issues including asthma, heart disease, and chronic fatigue. Parents mustn’t ignore their toddler’s weight. 

Since every kid has a different body build, you can calculate the weight necessary for the age range, based on the height of the kid. The body mass index (BMI) is a measure that gives a guideline of weight with height. 

If you are still not able to figure out if there is an obesity problem, consult a doctor. The doctor refers to a growth chart, BMI, and other tests to navigate if the child’s weight is the root cause of some serious health problem. 

Once you figure out the increase in the weight of the child, you should also assess the possible cause and sources of weight gain. It can be tough to view obesity based on visual sight. 

obesity in toddlers

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What to do once you find out that your toddler is obese 

Once you find that your toddler is overweight or obese, don’t panic. With the right treatment, conscious diet, and exercise. You should be glad that you are now aware of his situation. 

The first thing you need to do is to approach a pediatrician and together you can curate a plan to help your kid reduce weight. 

Causes of overweight/ obesity

It is important to understand how children become overweight and what are the major contributors. In most of cases, it is a lifestyle issue where many of them eat too much but exercise too little. 

Enough food and diet ensure healthy growth and development of the children. But when the calorie intake is not on par with calorie burning, it can result in weight gain. Many factors, whether separate or in combination, can increase the risk of being overweight-

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Regular intake of processed and high-calorie food can lead to excess weight gain. Also, having sugary food and improper and unhealthy eating schedules and practice can disturb the weight balance of the kid.

Less exercise

Children who don’t exercise reduce the calories burned in comparison to calorie intake. More time spent sitting and non-movement activities contribute to excess weight gain. 

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No physical education programs

Some of the schools generally don’t have a policy on physical activities in eliminatory schools. Schools that offer little or no physical activities can make your kid physically lethargic. 

Genetic factors

It is a common fact that if the family has people who are overweight and likely to put over more weight. It also creates an environment where there is no motivation to do any physical activity and high-calorie are regularly taken. 

Complications due to obesity 

Physical complications

Several complications can arise as a result of obesity. It affects the physical balance of the baby which prolongs as the baby grows up. If not regulated on time, it can also lead to chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes or a cluster of diseases leading to metabolic syndrome. Extreme obesity can lead to early diagnosis of asthma or blood pressure problems. Disrupted sleeping pattern is also a complication that can arise due to obesity. 

Social complications 

Obesity can lead to lower self-esteem of the child as they usually end up being bullied by their peers, and constant victims of body shaming that can trigger depression. Being overweight can make the child feel lazy and fatigued all the time as they tend to have more anxiety and poor social skills. Social complications can lead to overwhelming emotions of helplessness which can make the child feel lonely and left out. 

obesity in toddlers

Home tips that you can implement to combat overweight 

Get that family involved 

A healthy weight starts at home. The child’s is psychology influenced by the actions of the environment, so it is important to make sure that the family is on a healthier track. If the whole family started taking a healthy diet, it would be easier to bring such a change in the child. You can create a huge impact on your child’s routine by involving and supporting them in different activities. 

Be an example: When the children observe the parents eating vegetables, staying active, and limiting the usage of electronic devices. 

Understand that a parent can bring significant changes: Not a lot of family exercise together every day, but this practice will encourage your kid to also exercise, the child is most likely to replicate the actions of the parents. 

Make healthier food choices

In order to eliminate obesity in your child, it is important to change your kid’s routine, including yourself. To make sure that the kid is healthy take gradual steps like adding some healthier snacks to the normal diet and slowly transitioning into a completely healthy diet. You can add a salad and steamed vegetables instead of fried snacks. 

Serve your child a dish full of colorful vegetables and add spices, making it tasty and delicious.

Minimum screen time 

Increased screen time directly decreases the active time of the kid. Additionally, it makes the kid more lethargic and lazy. Also, the commercials for junk foods on Tv trigger the child to eat and intake junk food. You can either distract them during the commercials with some fun interactive games or take up services that eliminate advertisements altogether. Children don’t understand that commercials are made to be persuasive. 

Make sure that they are active

Activeness doesn’t mean exercising, it is relative to engaging in some activity. You can either encourage them to go and play on the ground or any dance or sports classes. Try to make the routine fun for them by adding different types of physical activities that will help them remain fit. 

Overall, like a toddler’s parent, it is important to cultivate habits that will help eliminate obesity now or even later in life. Note that your child is observing your actions and imitating the same. So for your child to have a healthy schedule, make sure that you adhere to the rules and restrictions you put on them. 

Child Obesity video

FAQ – Helping Your Child Who is Overweight

How can we help children with childhood obesity?

There are many ways in which we can help children with childhood obesity. One way is to encourage them to be more active. This can be done by ensuring that they have plenty of opportunities to be active, such as playing sports, going for walks, or riding bikes. Another way is to help them make healthier food choices. This can be done by teaching them about healthy eating habits and providing them with healthy food options. Finally, it is important to provide support and encouragement to children who are struggling with their weight. This can be done by listening to their concerns, offering words of encouragement, and helping them to develop a positive body image.

Who is to blame for obesity in children?

There are many factors that contribute to childhood obesity. It’s not just one person’s responsibility. Parents play a role in teaching their children about healthy eating habits and portion sizes. Schools also have a responsibility to provide healthy meals and create an environment that supports physical activity. And finally, food companies need to produce healthier foods and market them in a way that doesn’t target children. It takes all of us working together to reduce childhood obesity.

Should parents be responsible for childhood obesity?

Parents should absolutely be responsible for childhood obesity. It is their job to ensure their children are eating healthy and exercising regularly. If a child is obese, it is likely because their parents are not doing their job properly. The child may be eating unhealthy foods or not getting enough exercise. It is up to the parents to make sure their children are living a healthy lifestyle.


I am co-founder of and Principal of Cambridge Montessori Preschool and DayCare Kaggadasapura Branch. I am also a Montessori certified teacher and have 5+ years of experience working with kids.

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