By Dr. Maria King
What measure is used to determine if your child weighs too much or too little? Most parents are familiar with growth curve charts used to show their child’s growth in comparison to other children of a similar age, but where does this information come from? The growth curve charts used in most physicians’ offices today were revised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2000. These charts are used to help the clinician evaluate your child’s growth, but are not intended to be the only means by which appropriate growth is determined.
So what can parents do when the physician reviewing their child’s growth curve reports the child’s weight is too low or too high? According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it is all about energy balance. Energy balance is when the amount of energy taken into the body, in the form of calories from food or drink, is the same as the amount of energy expended, or going out of the body, in the form of daily activities and exercise. A child becomes overweight when they take more energy in than they have going out; an underweight child is putting more energy out than they are taking in.
The goal is to find the energy balance that ensures your child is growing appropriately. Yet, every child is different. For example, a 2-year-old sedentary girl requires just 1,000 calories/day, while a very active young lady needs 1,400. Visit the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute “We Can!” website at www.nhlbi.nih.gov for information about energy balance, age-related calorie charts and more.
After many years on staff at Mammoth Hospital, Dr. Maria King will be opening her own private practice, Day & Night Pediatrics. Look for more columns by Dr. King in upcoming issues of The Sheet. Contact her at 760.934.0003.