A skinny kid is just as much a worry to parents as an overweight one. Amazingly, in a world of obesity, I have more small and underweight children coming to my clinic than overweight kids!
What’s going on with them?
In many cases, the skinny kids are the ones who have had ongoing gut issues including severe reflux and sore tummies. Many of them have poor appetites or are extremely fussy and only eat a handful of different foods. Some actually eat a lot, but still remain small and slight. This is often due to food allergies, gut inflammation or malabsorption of nutrients. In my clinic we can investigate the underlying causes of a reluctance to eat or failure to put on weight, as there are also often physical reasons for it. Here are some of the common nutrients that skinny kids tend to be low in:
- Zinc – One of the most important minerals in children’s growth. Zinc helps us make all our digestive juices, which help us to extract the all the goodness from the food we eat. It can also slow up childhood diarrhoea. When a child is low in zinc they tend to be a picky eater with a poor sense of taste and smell, and get full up really easily. Our bodies aren’t good at storing zinc, so we need to ensure our kids are eating enough zinc-rich foods. These include dark meats, seafood, pulses, nuts, dairy, squashes such as pumpkin, and sesame seeds.
- Iron – Another critical mineral for growing kids is iron. Iron deficiency is a common problem we see in clinic and when a child has low iron stores they can get sore tummies, feel sick and are often tire easily. Iron helps transport oxygen from the lungs to the brain and also helps muscles store and use oxygen, so it’s important for growth and development. Iron-rich foods include beef, pork, poultry, seafood, tofu, kidney beans, black beans, peas, dried fruits and leafy dark green veggies. Remember, to include foods rich in vitamin C alongside these, such as kiwi fruit, red peppers, and parsley, to help the body absorb iron.
- Iodine – Without enough iodine our metabolism slows up and this can affect thyroid function. A slow thyroid can affect a child’s growth and also hinder their brain development, so this is super important for a growing child. Foods rich in iodine include seaweed, fish, eggs and dairy products as well as some plant-based fortified “milks”. Dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan mums-to-be and little ones particularly need to ensure they are consuming iodine regularly.
Get all this right and they’ll eat more and become more robust! Remember there can be a wide variety of reasons for fussy eating, poor appetite and sore tummies. At NatureDoc clinic, we can investigate the underlying causes of a reluctance to eat or failure to put on weight, as there are also often physical reasons for it. So contact us if you are concerned.
Updated from the originally published version of July 2015