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Japan's 1st guideline on obesity in young children introduces preventative measures

A child receives a medical checkup at a public health center in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, in this file photo taken on June 26, 2014. (Mainichi/Kaori Gomi)

TOKYO -- A guideline on obesity in children aged 5 and under, with information such as measures to tackle the problem, was created by four organizations including the Japan Pediatric Society (JPS) for the first time in the nation.

In general, body mass index (BMI) -- an indicator of high or low body fatness -- increases from around the age of 6. The guideline points out that a child already showing signs of increased BMI during their doctor checkup at age 3 has a high risk of obesity and needs to introduce lifestyle changes.

Under the guideline, guardians of children with increased BMI in their checkup for 3-year-olds compared to their checkup when aged 18 months should be given guidance on observing the child's weight and reconsidering their lifestyle.

Furthermore, children with a birth weight of 4,000 grams or more and 2,500 grams or less have a high risk of obesity. The guideline states that making sure such children have not gained too much weight during their checkups when aged 18 months or at age 3 is an effective measure.

Approaches to reduce the risk of childhood obesity, such as limiting the use of smartphones, gaming devices and other electronic media to one hour a day, are also included in the guideline posted on the official JPS website.

Tokyo Kasei Gakuin University professor Mitsuhiko Hara, well acquainted with pediatrics, who was involved in the making of the guideline, stated, "Obesity of young children tends to develop into obesity at school-age and older. It is important to prevent the issue early on."

(Japanese original by Mizuki Osawa, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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