Being overweight is when a child weighs so much that it is considered unhealthy. Severe obesity is called obesity and is considered a disease. Children’s weight is affected by heredity, eating habits, and how much the child moves. Obesity and obesity exert a strain on the body, increasing the risk of diseases such as diabetes or heart disease. Obesity and obesity in children are common

The more the child weighs, the greater the risk of them getting sick. By changing habits, the child’s weight gain can be changed. Often it is easier if the child can change habits with relatives. Sometimes it is easier if close relatives support the child in their own new habits.  

It takes time to change weight, but with patience and knowledge, it goes. Care can help with support and treatment. But you can also change habits yourself. If a change does not work, you can try something else.

So you know if the child is overweight

To know if your child has obesity or obesity you can 

  • look at the child’s growth curve
  • Calculate BMI for the child.

growth curves

You can see the child’s growth curve at the childcare center, bvc, or at the school nurse. There the child is measured and weighed regularly. A nurse writes the child’s height and weight into a table. The length and weight should preferably follow certain curves in the table. Using the curves it is possible to see if a child has obesity or obesity.


It is possible to calculate if your child has obesity or obesity using math and BMI tables. There are special BMI tables for children. At the end of this text, you can read more about how to calculate BMI. There are also tables for children’s BMI.

Common problems

It is common for children who are overweight to have lower self-esteem. Self-esteem is about how you think and feel about yourself. When self-esteem is weaker, it can feel awkward with a single little comment about how you look or about something you say. You might get nervous just by thinking about what others should think about you.

Other common complaints are

  • pain in the knees, feet or back
  • difficulty in moving
  • decreased fitness and fatigue
  • snoring that can cause difficulty sleeping.

Many feel good

Many children who are overweight or obese feel good. They don’t think the overweight is cumbersome. But in order for the child not to get other diseases, it is still important to do something about the weight.

What should the child eat?

To change your child’s weight, eating habits need to be changed. There are many ways to change habits. Different things work for different children. If one thing doesn’t work, you can try something else.

The most important dietary advice for children is to

  • eat regular meals
  • eat lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Eat coarse bread, potatoes, pasta, and rice
  • Eat less saturated fat, such as butter, cream, and cheese
  • Eat less sugar, ice cream, and sweets
  • Drink less of sweet drinks
  • Eat just large portions.

Regular meals and a serving

Children should preferably eat food three times a day at quite certain times. It may be good to put a portion on the plate and then take no more. In addition to meals, it is possible to eat something for snacks, such as fruit.

The plate model

One way to get a better look at the food is to eat according to the plate model. It is based on the fact that the contents of the plate are divided into three parts. Some consist of vegetables, some carbohydrates, and some proteins. Examples of carbohydrates are potatoes, rice, and pasta. Proteins are found in, for example, beans, lentils, fish, meat, chicken, eggs, and soy products. The plate model can be easy for children to understand. If the child is not measured by a portion, they can get more of the vegetables.

The first few years do not matter much

Young children can have a lot of body fat without being overweight. Obesity before the age of two rarely matters. Many biennials taper off by themselves. Few overweight one-year-olds are still overweight at the age of five.

From the age of three, the risk of overweight or obesity increases. Then it can be good to do something about the weight.

If your child’s obesity becomes obese, they may receive treatment from 4-5 years of age.

As the child gets older

Most children with heredity develop their obesity before the age of 7-8. It is important to start immediately. The older the child becomes, the greater the risk that his overweight will remain until adulthood. As the child gets older it can be more difficult to get into good habits. A teenager often has his own money and can buy food, sweets, and ice cream himself. Then it can be more difficult to find habits that work. Patience and interim goals help. It is never too late for a child to change habits.


All children, regardless of age, feel good about moving. At least an hour of physical activity each day is good. It can be walking or cycling to school or preschool. Ball sports, swimming, or playing in a playground are some other examples of good exercise.

If any activity does not work, the child can try something else. Perhaps it will be easier if you as an adult are active with the child.

Sometimes there are special training groups for overweight children. The school nurse or pediatrician usually has information about such groups.

Many children sit still in front of a screen for many hours each day. Then it may be good to have rules or agreements regarding screen-free time or maximum times for the screen. There are also games where the child moves as they play.

Set up sub-goals

When your child is about to change their weight, it is important to have patience and set goals. The sub-goals can be about both eating habits and exercise. Follow up the goals regularly through weight checks. 

Seek care

It is possible to change habits and affect the child’s weight without the help of the care. But if it doesn’t, you should turn to

  • the childcare center if the child has not yet started school
  • student health if they go to school
  • a medical center.
  • a pediatric surgery.

You can seek care at any medical center or open specialist clinic you want throughout the country.

Many schools and childcare centers take care of the custodians of the child is overweight and obese or is at risk. They give advice and tips.

Children should also be involved

There is no age limit when a child may participate in deciding on their care. The child’s right to decide for himself is related to the child’s maturity. The older the child, the more important it is for them to be involved in the decisions that are made.

Sometimes it is extra important to seek care early

It is important to seek care early if there are obesity and obesity within the child’s biological family. This also applies if there is type 2 diabetes, heart problems, or other diseases linked to obesity.

If your child’s obesity has become obese, it is important to seek immediate care. Then it is good to start treatment as soon as possible.

Children with different disabilities are sometimes more at risk of developing obesity or obesity. Therefore, it may be extra important for them to get help from the healthcare system to avoid gaining weight.

Treatment of obesity

All treatment of obesity is about changing habits. The child needs to eat well and just a lot and to move more.

To help you change habits, you and your child can receive support from their care. The health care staff can help

  • diet and exercise advice
  • help with motivation and intermediate goals
  • weighing and measuring
  • medical examinations and investigations
  • training and call support.

At a pediatric clinic, there is often a team of staff providing support.

A dietician can help with what foods and eating habits are good. The child can also receive treatment from a physical therapist who is good at movement and exercise. Some children may need counseling with a psychologist.

If your child has severe obesity, they may need support from a hospital with advanced investigations and other types of treatment, such as surgery.

What are the causes of obesity and obesity in children?

The body needs energy. The energy comes from what you eat and drink. The body needs to get rid of as much energy as it gets in itself, in order not to gain weight. If you are overweight, you have gained more energy than the body has done away with. 

Being overweight is usually hereditary

If your child is overweight, his body is good at storing fat. It is usually hereditary. The ability to store fat has historically been essential for human survival.

But it’s not just about heredity, but also about habits around food and exercise.

You cannot affect the heritage plants. But habits are subject to change.

Sometimes obesity can be a sign of some other illness, but it is unusual.

The difference between being overweight and obese

Being overweight is not a disease, but children who are overweight are at risk of developing obesity. If your child has obesity, the risk of having other diseases increases. Obesity is therefore counted as a disease.

The limits of what is overweight and what is obesity are calculated using BMI. 

Complications and sequelae

Children who have obesity are more at risk

  • high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • strain injuries from knees, feet, and back
  • snoring and difficult to sleep
  • hormonal disorders
  • irregular periods and problems with having children in the future
  • fatty liver
  • cancer.

The risk of developing various diseases is not only due to obesity. But every small weight loss helps reduce the risk of illness.

How are related parties affected?

How you are affected by your child being overweight or obese can be different. For some, there are no major problems. For others, it can be complicated. 

Many close relatives feel that others blame them for the child’s weight or habits. There are notions in society about how children should look, which can affect you as a relative.

If you who are related yourself have overweight or obese, you have your own experience. Maybe you have felt singled out. You may feel guilt if your child also develops overweight. Maybe you have developed illness yourself because of your obesity. Maybe you have had a hard time finding habits that work. 

Change habits together

Usually, it becomes easier if you as close relative change habits with the child. Then the child gets support and help.

If you or others in the child’s vicinity also have obesity and obesity, you can seek help with the child. Talk to bvc, student health, or someone at the health center. Some pediatric clinics have parent groups for those who have children in treatment for obesity.

To calculate BMI for children

BMI is a number that is calculated using weight and height. You take the weight in kilos and divide by the length in meters. You then divide the number you get with the length in meters.

With the help of BMI, it is possible to calculate if your child has obesity or obesity. The BMI limits are different for different ages. It can also vary if the child is biologically a girl or boy. To get the right BMI you need to look at an age table.

The limit for obesity is called iso BMI 25. The limit for obesity is called iso BMI 30.

You can get help in calculating your child’s iso BMI. Contact BVC, the school nurse, or a health center. There are also pages on the internet that calculate iso BMI.

BMI is an abbreviation of body mass index.

  1. Calculate iso BMI: weight / length / length
  2. Compare the calculated value with the limits found in the table.


A girl has reached the age of nine and is 1 meter and 39 centimeters long. She weighs 42 kg. Her BMI becomes 42 / 1.39 / 1.39 = 21.74. In the table, we see that the iso BMI 25 for a nine-year-old girl is 19.07. Iso BMI 30 for the same age is 22.81. The girl thus crosses the limit for being overweight but not the limit for obesity.

Muhammad Nadeem

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