When puppy fat becomes dangerous [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted on 5 February 2021

Is it puppy fat, or is it time to start worrying about your child’s weight?

Here’s why childhood obesity is a problem:

  • It’s linked to many of the negative health effects we see in adults.
  • Puts children at greater risk for adult obesity.
  • Associated risks include high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which increases the child’s cardiovascular risk.
  • May lead to diabetes, a fatty liver, heartburn, joint and muscular problems and breathing problems, such as asthma and sleep apnoea.
  • Exposes children to potential social and psychological problems, such as teasing from their peers. This can result in depression and low self-esteem, which may lead to eating disorders in adolescence.

Why are our kids facing this crisis?

  • Underactivity is a major problem. The World Health Organization recommends that children between five and 17 should have at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily. This can take the form of exercise, play or sport.
  • As parents, we’re not making healthy choices – and our children are copying us.
  • Treats are no longer reserved for special occasions.

What can you do?

  • Keep high-sugar, high-fat foods out of the house.
  • Make mealtimes a family affair. It’s not just about eating together; prepare the food together.
  • Avoid offering food as a reward for good behaviour.
  • Praise healthy food choices.
  • Skip sugary cold drinks. Water is best, or try homemade rooibos iced tea.
  • Don’t eat in front of the TV.
  • Have structured mealtimes.
  • Poor sleep has been shown to play a role in the development of obesity. Make sure your child is getting the right amount of sleep for their age.
  • Practise good sleep hygiene – make sure your child goes to bed at the same time every night and follows a bedtime routine.
  • Limit screen time before bed.
  • If you’re concerned that your child is at risk, have their weight and height monitored regularly by a doctor or dietitian.

Your medical team can help by:

  • Offering an online or in-person assessment.



2019 South African Child Gauge Report.


In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.