Normal, healthy growth is measured according to weight and height. Charts are available which outline the ranges of weight which are considered to be healthy. For people with neuromuscular disorders this range is extended slightly to account for different amounts of muscle.
Growth patterns that may require attention and monitoring are either being overweight for height (an indication of excess nutrition), or underweight for height (insufficient nutrition).
What causes someone to become overweight?
This is caused when energy used by the body is less than energy eaten. In neuromuscular conditions it could be due to a reduced ability to walk around (so less energy is burned off) or increases in appetite (which may be a side-effect of some medication eg steroids). Eating an “average” portion of food in some cases may be larger than the energy required and lead to too much weight gain.
How can you lose extra weight?
Up until the end of the adolescent growth spurt all children grow in height and require adequate nutrition to grow. It is important that the diet is balanced and takes into account the amount of energy a child is using. Generally, prevention is better than cure. It is easier to monitor and keep weight stable than lose it.
Different strategies can be used to lose weight. One is increasing energy expenditure by exercising. This can be difficult for individuals with limited mobility. Certain exercises may not be beneficial and before starting an exercise programme you should always discuss this first with your clinician and/or physiotherapist. Eating lower calorie foods (eg, fresh fruit and vegetables) and less of the foods which are high in calories (eg, those containing a lot of fat and sugar) can help weight reduction in individuals with limited mobility.
Banned foods can become more desirable and it may be helpful to still have some treats. Advice from a specialist dietitian can be helpful in setting goals and making more specific suggestions.