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When to worry about your child’s weight

Is your child overweight? About one-third of mothers may not notice that their children—especially boys—are packing on too many pounds. But the nationwide rise in diabetes and high blood pressure among children is a wake-up call for parents to watch their kids’ weight.

Learning how to tell when your child needs to slim down is an important step in helping him or her stay healthy. Just like adults, children become overweight and obese when they take in more calories than they burn off through exercise. Pediatricians have different methods to determine if children have a weight problem. They may plot height and weight on a graph or use a device called a caliper to measure the thickness of skin folds in the upper arm.

Body mass index (BMI) is another accurate measurement that can reveal whether children are overweight. You can find an easy-to-use BMI calculator at to help you determine whether your child needs to lose pounds. A girl’s total body weight should not be more than 32 percent fat. A boy’s should be less, at 25 percent fat. Some parents make the mistake of thinking it’s OK for boys to be beefier. Remember, there are no guidelines for boys’ or girls’ ideal weight, but there are healthy ranges for both sexes.

If your child is overweight, don’t rush to put him or her on a diet. Instead, serve healthy foods and organize physical activities to help keep your entire family on a healthy track.