Children are diagnosed with thinness if weight compared to height is less than 5 percentile (in English: Percentile) on growth charts, and the way that pediatricians and nutritionists monitor is by measuring weight to height for children from birth until the age of two.
After the age of two, growth charts are used to monitor the weight-for-age-mass index, where the weight-mass index is defined as a comparison of weight with height, and if the weight-for-age index is less than 5 percentile, the child suffers from thinness.
Indicators of thinness for children
Monitoring the growth of the child is one of the important things that must be paid attention to, and there are indicators and symptoms that indicate the thinness of the child, including the following:
- Low weight percentile of the child on the growth charts at the annual visit to the pediatrician.
- Children’s clothing sizes should not change each year from the previous year.
- Prominent ribs in the child, which are an indication of thinness.
The Reasons for The Thinness of Children
There are several reasons that affect the growth of the child, which makes him thin and does not gain weight, including:
Premature birth: Babies born prematurely often suffer from thinness because their growth takes time to complete like their peers, but the common cause of thinness in older children is not eating enough food.
Medical problems: There are many medical problems that may affect appetite and the absorption of nutrients, such as; Food allergies, hormonal problems, digestive problems, or certain medications that reduce appetite.
Not eating enough calories: This is because the parents do not know the needs of the child, and the distribution of calories for him.
Health problems in the mouth and the nervous system: These problems affect children’s ability to swallow, and the child may not eat well if he has oral allergy syndrome or neurological problems.
Continuous vomiting when eating some foods: due to the occurrence of acid reflux, and some neurological problems.
Problems with the pancreas: the child cannot digest food well, and this makes him not gain weight.
Thyroid problems: which causes the child to burn more calories.
Genetic Disorders: Genetic factors have a role in affecting the child’s development, so a review should be made with a specialist to assess the child’s health status.
Options in the diet: the lack of diversification of meals and the limited foods provided is linked to thinness.
Methods of Treating Children’s Thinness
Parents must ensure that the meals provided to the child are rich in calories and nutrients important for the growth and health of the child, and a specialist doctor should be consulted. Here are ways that contribute to the treatment of children’s thinness:
- Avoid skipping main meals.
- Eat 4 to 5 small meals a day, instead of 3 large meals.
- Eat one to two healthy snacks regularly each day.
- Avoid foods that are low in nutrients and high in calories, such as; Fast foods, sweets, and soft drinks.
- Eat foods that treat thinness and foods rich in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, and are high in calories, and these foods include: whole milk, yogurt, and peanut butter.
- Avoid low-calorie drinks.
- Limit drinks during meals.
- Eat enough protein, such as eggs, nut butter, milk, and cheese
- Eat whole grains, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, and pasta as a rich source of carbohydrates.
- eating healthy fats, such as; Seeds, nuts, and avocados and add them to salads.
- Child participation in food preparation, shopping, and meal planning.
- Consult a nutritionist, to get help, especially if the child suffers from malabsorption, or a chronic disease that causes thinness.
The Harm of Thinness To Children
Despite the warnings about obesity, but thinness also has damages that must be paid attention to, and here comes the harms of thinness in general:
- Delayed growth stages: The delay in growth can be observed in children who suffer from thinness, especially those under the age of 3 years, because brain growth is rapid in this period, and it needs nutrients to grow properly, and children who suffer from thinness may lose Essential nutrients therefore due to poor nutrition and malabsorption, thus this can affect brain development and cause developmental delay.
- Osteoporosis: As it leads to an increased risk of fractures, due to a deficiency of vitamin D and calcium.
- Dental problems, dry skin, and hair loss.
- exhaustion; This is due to not consuming enough calories to obtain the necessary energy.
- Anemia, which leads to fatigue and dizziness.
- Weak immunity, as the child’s failure to get enough calories from the diet leads to insufficient amounts of nutrients to reduce infection, which increases the risk of disease.
- Poor absorption of nutrients, and thus deficiency of vitamins and minerals.