When It's More Than Just Baby Fat

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Is it baby fat? Or is it something more harmful for your child?

That's the question many parents are asking as doctors report that record numbers of children under the age of five are considered "obese."

"It's hard as a mother," said mom Theresa Pressley. "I feel like I was footing the blame for a lot of it."

Pediatricians are seeing an alarming trend among pre-schoolers and toddlers. When parents bring them in for a check up and they step on the scale - the children are weighing in well-over a healthy weight for their age.

"Kids are just getting overweight at a much younger age. We're noticing that infants are off the chart," said Mary Anne Lewis of Children's Hospital Boston.

Doctors have named these children "super obese toddlers," saying they are at serious risk for health problems which normally plague older adults.

Nutritionist Carolyn Landis said, "People don't realize it, but even preschool age kids can have high blood pressure…they can have type-2 diabetes."

Obesity among children under five has doubled in the last 20 years, and they are at greater risk of remaining overweight their entire lives.

Experts say it isn't always a parents fault. There are times when there may be genetic diseases or hormonal disorders - but that's the exception.

For the most part they believe parents can help their children by making sure they receive proper nutrition and exercise.

Sound like good old common sense? Dieticians say it is, but parent's need to learn about the right way to do it.

"There is reason for us to be concerned about weight loss starting so early in life as that could lead to eating disorders," registered dietician Stacy Schulman said.

One thing Pressley learned while attending a weight management program designed for parent's of pre-schoolers is to make sure her son John's diet isn't limited or restricted, because children his age need extra nutrition for growth.

She learned instead to make sure the entire family has good eating habits and learns about making healthy choices with food.

Pressley said, "I think were doing everything we can for him now that we know what to do. "

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