Chubby & Fat Babies Are No Longer 'Cute'

Like most people, I find nothing cuter than a chunk-a-lunk baby full of rolls and ripples. Seriously, is there anything more precious than a chubby baby? Well now, it seems that chubby babies are actually not so cute, after all. A recent Harvard study shows that babies who jump two percentile lines or more in the first two years of life are much more likely to be obese later in life.

When a baby grows, as we all know, doctors chart their weight against the height of all other babies and that gives parents a "percentile." Doctors want to see that a baby born in one percentile roughly stays in that percentile. The major percentile lines are the 5th, 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, 90th, and 95th. So a baby who goes from the 10th to the 25th, for instance, has jumped two percentiles and is twice as likely to be obese at age 5 and 75 percent more likely to be obese at age 10. 

As a parent, it's a bit sobering.

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The questions -- is the baby crawling enough? Is he eating too much? -- are questions that haven't really been posed regarding infants before. And the idea of putting a baby on a diet seems almost laughably absurd. And yet, here we are.

My own daughter was so low weight when she was born that we struggled mightily to get her from the 5th to the 15th percentile. And now I am supposed to have been worried if she had made it any higher?

If the study is to be believed, we may see a rash of baby diets, which just seems dangerous to me. Babies gain weight. That's what they do. It's hard to imagine actually being in a position where I was worried about my infant's weight.

But if my baby jumped two percentiles, I suppose I would be. Obesity isn't the life most want for their children. It leads to all kinds of health problems and social problems as well. One must never forget how hard it is to be a big child on the playground. Children can be awfully cruel.

My heart goes out to parents whose children are off the scales. It isn't an easy decision to put a child on a diet, and many parents are doing the absolute best they can without being forced to deprive their children.

It's a very hard balance to strike.

Have you ever been concerned about your child's weight?


Image via Sarah M Stewart/Flickr

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