We\u2019ve all heard of the term 'baby fat'. Those extra layers of chubbiness we carried around as kids that miraculously melted off as we slowly inched towards our inevitable teen years. It\u2019s a less dramatic version of childhood glow-up where you sort of grow out of yourself. But is this just a myth? Will your child eventually outgrow our baby fat or are they at risk for childhood obesity? All babies are born a little chubby and most of them continue to be chubby until their preteens. This chubbiness is what people call 'baby fat', the extra stores of adipose tissue they carried with them in the womb and after they\u2019re born. But how is baby fat different from normal 'adult' fat? Is Baby Fat Real Even? First and foremost, fat is one of the main energy sources of the body. But in general there is some distinction between normal adult fat and what we know as 'baby fat'. Also known as 'brown fat' or 'brown adipose tissue', 'baby fat' is not exclusive to human newborns only. Animals (mammals in particular) also accumulate extra brown fat when they\u2019re about to go into hibernation. The main purpose of brown fat is thermoregulation. Helping protect the body from hypothermia or extreme cold. It is mainly located around the spine and in the shoulders as opposed to white or yellow fat which accumulate around the belly as a result of excess calories. Brown fat metabolises much faster and easier than white fat by converting calories into heat when temperatures drop. For this reason it also often called 'good fat'. That said, we now know that baby fat does not necessarily correlate with childhood obesity if at all. Just like adults, obesity in children are caused by a myriad of reasons. Causes of Childhood Obesity Obesity in children are the result of genetics and environment (what they eat). You can\u2019t control your DNA, but you can control what you put in your bodies. For babies, what truly determines how 'fat' they will grow up to be is what kind of milk you feed them. This is usually where excess calories are introduced into your baby\u2019s diet. Calories that will eventually become white fat or 'bad fat'. According to studies, those who were breastfed had a less chance of developing childhood obesity than their formula-fed peers. But this doesn\u2019t mean that all formula-fed babies will grow up obese. While this may encourage more mums to opt for breastmilk instead of formula we understand why that may not be an option for many people. So extra precaution would have to be taken by parents with a family history of obesity who are raising an exclusively formula-fed baby. While it can seem cruel to subject kids to calorie counting, there are ways to keep them fit and healthy without obsessively restricting their diet. Exercise, good sleep and things like probiotics and fibre to ensure gut well-being. Also, cutting out processed foods, junk food and fast food also wouldn\u2019t hurt. How to Know If your Child is Overweight While the term baby fat does indeed have some merit to it (despite being a misnomer), it does make the issue more complicated. Parents often can\u2019t tell whether their child\u2019s chubbiness is just baby fat or obesity. However this is something that they should pay attention to. An obvious way to know (without the help of a paediatrician) is by monitoring your child\u2019s BMI or Body Mass Index. This can be cumbersome to do at home but completely easy if a bit time-consuming. You also don\u2019t have to tell your child what it\u2019s for. Especially if it means you don\u2019t end up promoting body dysmorphia or self-esteem issues so early in the life. Another way is to look at your child\u2019s body composition. As mentioned brown fat is mainly located in the neck, shoulders and back. But white fat accumulates in the belly (midsection), face (cheeks) and thighs. However this a poor way of determining your child\u2019s weight health so BMI is the best way to go. Normal BMIs for 5-year-olds are 13.8 to 16.8 (for boys) and 13.6 to 16.7 (for girls). If you suspect your child is already a bit obese, it's time to take action. They will need your subtle intervention to deal with the issue before it gets worse. Unlike baby fat, childhood obesity is different and won't 'go away on its own'. Body-Shaming and Fat-Phobia We cannot stress to you the importance of promoting a healthy, positive mindset about body image in the family. Especially when it comes to your children. Yes obesity (and childhood obesity) is a major health epidemic in the country. But there is a fine line between helping your kids maintain a healthy diet and fat-shaming for being a little chubby. Goodness knows they're probably getting teased and bullied about it enough at school (another thing you should probably look into by the way), It\u2019s important to not point out their weight if you suspect they may be overeating and gaining a little bit of weight. Harsh criticisms about body image is one of the leading causes of eating disorders among teens. Eating healthy for instance doesn\u2019t always have to be about gaining fat but about keeping away illnesses. And exercise as well. Let health be a positive adventure about staying healthy instead of a battle to stay thin. Children in general need higher reserves of fat because of the energy they need to grow and learn. But remember there are good fats (salmon, sardines, nuts, eggs, olive oil) and bad fats (palm oil, cheese, margarines, shortening, most baked goods). So be sure to give them more of the good kind. Embracing Your Little One\u2019s Chubbiness While it\u2019s impossible to tell if they will grow out of their 'baby fat' you can still practice healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle. As long as your kids are happy and healthy, it doesn\u2019t matter what body type they have. The only important part is that they grow up living comfortably in their own skin and loving every inch of who they are. For more insightful stories and fun recipes, stay tuned to Motherhood Story!