"Toddlers & Tiaras" is the often-unsettling reality show about the competitive world of childhood beauty pageants and the fanatical parents who fuel the competitions.
While we don't advocate parents putting kids under that kind of microscopic scrutiny, a recent Columbia University study shows the need for parents to be more vigilant about what they're letting their toddlers eat.
Turns out a child's risk for developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can start as early as age 3 if the child is overweight. In fact, 70 to 80 percent of obese children have NAFLD.
A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that an increase of about 4 inches of waist circumference at age 3 doubled the odds of a child developing NAFLD or elevated liver enzymes by age 8.
That causes liver damage later in life and is associated with insulin resistance and development of Type 2 diabetes.
The good news is that overweight kids who have elevated liver enzyme levels can reverse the damage and eliminate their risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.
The researchers suggest that weight management via regular exercise and eating fewer highly processed foods can combat the risk of fatty liver.
Danish researchers have shown that kids who return to a normal weight by age 13 have liver enzymes and insulin resistance levels of people who've never been overweight.
So don't think excessive chubbiness in your toddler is sweet or cuddly; it's a red flag that it's time to help your child reclaim a healthy future.
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