When your child goes from slim and active to suddenly overweight, it's a cause for concern. A look into your child's habits, medications and recent changes could alert you to the trigger for the problem. Some children are prone to weight gain, so it's important to encourage a life of physical fitness and healthy meal choices to help you manage your child's weight. In some cases, your doctor's help may be necessary to discern the cause of weight and a treatment plan for your child.
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Before you panic about your child's sudden weight gain, you should understand that there is a wide array of "normal" when it comes to a child's weight. The Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension notes that for children, the emphasis should be on health, and not on weight. Your child's pediatrician should be able to tell you what your child should weigh, since it's a personal and individual measurement. If you're worried, a visit to your pediatrician is in order.
Your child can gain weight rapidly for a myriad of reasons. One of the usual suspects is puberty. If your child has recently had her first period or has been experiencing other signs of puberty, her weight gain could be another facet of her changing body, notes KidsHealth.org, a division of the Nemours Foundation. A change in level of activity, friends or mood could also be a precursor to weight gain. In some cases, if your child is taking a certain medication, like an anti psychotic drug, weight gain is often a side effect.
While you may think that added and sudden weight gain is nothing more than a child's regular fluctuating weight, you should know that a sudden weight gain could be the sign of a serious condition. Overweight children are at a higher risk for health problems, including high blood pressure, elevated levels of cholesterol and type 2 diabetes, according to the American Heart Association. That's why it's important to notify your doctor of any changes.
If your child has gained weight and you think his habits could be causing the problem, you may have to change some of your actions at home. Create healthy meals with regular meal times as a family. Make sure that healthy snacks are readily available and junk food stays out of the house. Encourage your child to get moving by playing sports as a family or going for walks. You can be a good example to teach your child healthy habits for life.
In some cases, medical treatment may be necessary, especially if the rapid weight gain is a side effect or symptom of another condition. With the help of your doctor, you can identify what is causing the weight gain and work out a plan for care to help your child manage her weight. For instance, "The Wall Street Journal" reports that drugs like Zyprexa, Abilify, Risperdal and Seroquel can cause as much as a 19 pound weight gain in 11 weeks. Your doctor can help you find alternatives that keep your child healthy and well while managing her weight.