Baby fat not just for babies

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: August 3rd, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Those chubby bellies and cherubic cheeks may be so cute you can’t stop yourself from pinching them. But baby fat may be more of a problem than most parents think.

Most of us believe baby fat magically melts away when a child hits a certain age. However, a new study shows that most of the time, baby fat sticks around for adolescence and adulthood too.

One-quarter of the more than five-thousand children British researchers studied were heavy by the time they were eleven. Nearly all of them were still overweight or obese when they turned sixteen, shattering the myth that children lose their baby fat during their teenage years.

Experts say the battle of the bulge needs to be fought early, before children learn unhealthy eating patterns that can last a lifetime. Good habits, such as exercising and eating right, ideally should be learned before children start school.

Parents should approach a teen’s weight problem a little more delicately, though. Criticizing a teen’s weight can just worsen the problem. Instead, experts recommend parents express their concern about additional weight gain. Parents are encouraged to make eating right easier for their children by providing healthy meal options at home and to steer children away from sedentary activities like video games.

Obesity can lead to chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Researchers say it could also increase children’s risks for developing cancer when they’re older.

Chubby cheeks may be adorable, but it’s better to be healthy than cute.