baby feeding

Obese or overweight baby: definition, causes, symptoms, treatments

Obese or overweight baby: definition, causes, symptoms, treatments

The experts: Caroline Seguin, behavioral nutritionist and specialist in psychotherapies adapted to eating disorders and Dr. Blandine Mellouet Fort, doctor

Chubby baby, healthy baby? Not necessarily ! From birth to three years old, babies can also be overweight and even obese. The infant’s appetite is important, but be careful not to overdo it. What to do if our baby is overweight? We take stock with Caroline Seguin, behavioral nutritionist and specialist in psychotherapies adapted to TCA and Dr. Blandine Mellouet Fort, doctor in charge of the BANCO project (Toolbox Improving Our Practices, Changing Our Views on Obesity).

Chubby, plump… How do you know if your baby is overweight? When should you worry about your weight?

Having a chubby child is not synonymous with being overweight, but neither is it synonymous with an ideal weight. The infant must be closely monitored by a pediatrician, who will determine, by establishing the relationship between his weight and his height, whether the infant is overweight or not. “We use specific curves which are not those of children, but those of paediatrics. We monitor the infant with the pediatrician over the first three years of life., explains Caroline Seguin. Later, throughout early childhood, we look at his curve of corpulencewhich indicates weight gain.

Girl or boy… Monitor the child’s weight curve from birth to 1 year old

This curve is present in the child’s health record and is the main indicator of a possible overweight of the baby. It is essential not to misinterpret the physical where the weight of the baby, according to our adult criteria. Only the pediatrician will be able to tell if baby is overweight or not, based on the numbers on the curve. “It is much rarer, we will see if the curve decreases well after 1 year oldbecause it is a sign of so-called secondary obesity, linked for example to a genetic cause, which will then require specific care.adds Dr. Blandine Mellouet Fort.

“Once walking has been acquired, around the age of 1, the toddler’s corpulence decreases”, explains Dr. Blandine Mellouet Fort. If this is not the case, this may be a warning signal that he is not exercising enough or eating too much.

What is rebound adiposity?

The adiposity rebound is the lowest point on the BMI curve, just before the curve rises. It is normally around six years. If this adiposity rebound is early, and therefore occurs before the age of six, the child’s risk of obesity is higher. The earlier the adiposity rebound, the greater the risk of having an obese child.

Why is baby obese?

“The determinants of childhood obesity are numerous and often intertwined. In common obesity, the most frequent, it is the combination of a ground genetic predisposing: we are not all equal in the face of overweight and environmental factors in the broad sense: parents’ habits, the quality of meals, the place of life, the physical environment, socio-economic factors…”, explains Dr. Blandine Mellouet Fort. The family factors are also obesity risks to consider. Because of genes, a diabetic or obese mother is more likely to have an overweight child.

On this side, eating habits and their transmission play an important role. A TNS Sofres survey reveals that in many families, fries are introduced into the diet from 10-12 months. Thus from the age of 1 year, 1 in 5 children eats fries in large quantities, that is to say 1 to 2 times a week. It’s too much, because the fries are very calories, and above all, it’s too soon! This contributes to increasing the risk of obesity. It is necessary to be vigilant during the food diversification of the baby, the food of a baby is different, in nature as in quantity, from that of older children, and a fortiori adults.

Similarly, during infancy and beyond, care should be taken to limit fatty and sugary foods, fruit juices, all of which are very high in calories. Conversely, we favor a diet balanced, fruits and vegetables, and we limit the time spent in front of the screens. For his health and for his self-esteem, good physical shape is a precious asset!

What about breast milk and breastfeeding?

Public Health France recommends breastfeeding or the use of infant milk exclusively up to 6 months. After this age, food and meals must be diversified. It’s time for food diversification, with the introduction of fruits and vegetables, then meat and fish, in addition to second-age milk or breast milk. A crucial moment to adopt good habits and appropriate eating habits. The meal should not be too rich in protein and calories, as it is likely to make the child fatter than expected. As a reminder, we do not give no cow’s milk to a child before 1 year, and up to 3 years, growing-up milk is preferred.

“Childhood overweight therefore generally results from this complex interaction between predisposing factors and environmental factors, but a child predisposed may not develop excess weight if his environment protects him,” insists Dr. Blandine Mellouet Fort. In any case, the sooner the baby is taken care of, the better his overweight will be treated.

What are the consequences of being overweight in babies?

The consequences of being overweight in babies are numerous. They are primarily physical and medical: risks of diabetes, high blood pressuresleep disorders, overload for the joints, musculoskeletal disorders, poor resistance to effort… Consequences that carry over into childhood, then adolescence, and finally into adulthood.

A risk of childhood obesity then obesity in adulthood

One of the consequences is also that the overweight baby has a risk of obesity when he is a child, then a teenager and an adult. Adult, complications cardiovascular are common, as is the risk of developing certain cancers. Side psycho, we know that obese children have more difficulty in having good self-esteem, and often lack self-confidence. Often mocked at school, their relationships with other children are often affected, and this from an early age.

What care for an overweight baby? What to do ?

Just like for the child, the diet is unthinkable for the baby: “It refocuses quite quickly, with a protocol accurate. We have specific measures, specific assessments, and if ever the weight drops a little, the work of the pediatrician is to say: ‘We will adapt, you will change the brand of milk, reduce the number of feedings…’Parents usually do it and it gets sorted out quickly. We don’t do never on a diet for an infant either, but rebalancing “, reassures Caroline Seguin.

Do not hesitate to make your baby move a little more if he does not do it enough, and have him practice a physical activity light, several hours a day, depending on his age. Rather than leaving him in a deckchair or high chair, don’t hesitate to put him on the floor and let him play, to move, on an activity mat for example. Or encourage him to crawl, walk on all fours, train him to stand, obviously adapting to his age. However, there is no question of making him follow a training course worthy of a high-level athlete, it is about an adapted physical activity, all this must remain playful!

What is childhood obesity?

The clinical signs of childhood obesity or overweight are sometimes difficult to observe with the naked eye. The most reliable index for diagnosing it is the body mass index (BMI), which is calculated very easily with the height and weight of the child: “Parents must be told to track the BMI curvethrough the health record in particular”, confirms Caroline Seguin. BMI is the only indicator endorsed by the World Health Organization. The role of the attending physician or pediatrician is essential at this age. It is he who will carry out regular monitoring of the BMI, and will be able to identify precociously children who are at risk of becoming overweight or obese.

According to, it is recommended to follow the BMI at least two to three times a year, in all children and adolescents.

The formula for calculating BMI is as follows: weight in kg divided by height squared. The child is obese if their BMI is greater than the 97th percentile of the corpulence curve.

Leave a Comment