There are many things that scare people, and weight is one of them. Since the global trend is skinny and lean is better, therefore, an overwhelming majority of people associate their health, self-esteem, and self-worth with their weight.
It not only runs true for oneself, but parents also tend to focus a lot on their child’s weight and BMI. The case is graver for teenagers; they not only have to contend with the parental pressure, but there is also peer pressure that causes them to become conscious about their weight.
While yes, weight matters, since obesity, especially childhood obesity, is dangerous. It causes health issues that require treatment from the best Pediatrician in Karachi, but the focus on weight and BMI alone is dangerous.
First, understanding weight and BMI
Weight is essentially a figure on the scale, but BMI is thought to be a more significant figure. It is essentially the ratio of one’s weight and height. The BMI scale can be divided into roughly three categories: underweight, healthy and overweight.
Many parents and doctors might use a child’s BMI to assess their health. Some might also compare the figure to other children of same age to get a more nuanced comparison. These figures are thought to help the experts and parents understand the status of the health of the child.
So, what is wrong with using weight and BMI?
Unfortunately, relying on using weight and BMI to get a picture of your child’s health is not a good approach. There are several reasons that this method is inadequate. These include:
Fails to take into account body composition
Weight is merely a number without any understanding whatsoever of the distribution in terms of fat, muscles, etc. Since BMI is also extracted from this figure, it too, fails to consider the important body components.
Some people might appear thin, but have greater fat in their body, which naturally is not healthy. Some might weigh more, but that is because they have greater muscle mass or bone density, which is a sign of a relatively healthy body.
Fails to take into account ethnic differences
Since BMI is a model based over white, European men, hence, the scale fails to account for the racial and ethnic differences. Different races might have different body types, and thus, using one yardstick for all is not a sound approach. Not only is BMI non-inclusive, it also is not representative.
Fails to take into account gender differences
Men and women have different body compositions. Hence, using one measure for male and female bodies is incorrect.
May paint an inaccurate picture
Since there is no accounting for the body composition, the figure on the scale might actually paint an inaccurate picture. It might call a person who is unhealthy, healthy, and vice versa.
These figures can then cause parents to also give the wrong nutrition to their child. As children need adequate nutrition for growth and development, hence any issue therein can pose issues for the child’s health.
Figure might cause stress
A figure that is arbitrary can still lead to a lot of stress in the parents and the child. Parents might worry that their child is not healthy, due to a higher BMI. Children might start to hate their bodies and develop low self-worth.
BMI can perpetuate stigma against bigger bodies
Even though there is growing acceptance for bigger bodies, which is different from obesity, still, BMI has and still can, perpetuate stigma against people who have larger bodies.
As adolescents are more vulnerable, this stigma can cause plus-sized children to suffer from bullying, peer pressure, etc. It can also pave way for eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Eating disorders not only greatly endanger physical and mental health but can also be fatal.
What should parents do then?
Weight and BMI are just a number; they do not adequately represent your child’s health. Instead, you should visit a Child Specialist in Lahore, who can check your child’s physical health more comprehensively, using medical history and tests. If needed, they can also then guide you as to how to improve your child’s physical health.