When is a chubby baby TOO chubby?

Posted by Clarence Jones

Chubby Babies?

Isn’t anything sacred? As a lifelong, card carrying member of the “Chubby Baby” club, I was recently surprised by the results of a new study published in February 2010 in the journal Clinical Pediatrics entitled “Identifying the “Tipping Point” Age for Overweight Pediatric Patients” that found over half of all American children are overweight or obese (according to data from the 2007 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)).

There is an emotional appeal – a cuteness- that chubby babies evoke, but  there is a clear risk associated with babies staying chubby to long. According to the study, “The critical period for preventing childhood obesity is during the first two years of a child’s life and for many by three months of age.”

I should not be shocked by this finding.  Obesity is a critical public health issue in America.  Obesity is an often dismissed or overlooked cultural phenomenon, we have change the word “fat’ to “Phat.” I am so old that I remember when being “heavyset” was actually a term of endearment, describing you as healthy or (maybe hefty) or living a life of abundance – of having more than enough. These cultural values persist.

I went to a men’s event once and saw a father give his daughter a plate of food that even I could not have finished. The father never thought about the long- term consequences of his action. He was only taking care of his child in a way that he felt expressed love.

So what do we do? How do we work with parents and caregivers to redefine “healthy” to include smaller portions, fewer trips to McDonalds, less soda and more fresh, wholesome foods?  What suggestions do you, our readers, have?