Is the Keto diet advisable for children

My nine-year-old suffers from flatulence. He is often embarrassed in public gatherings. How can I help him? — Rita Chowdhury, Mumbai

Production of gas in the intestine is normal. However, in some cases there may be increased gas production because of a wide range of causes including lactose and fructose intolerance and/or constipation. I recommend that you consult a paediatrician who will investigate and suggest the best course of treatment. You could also introduce some lifestyle changes including modifications in your family diet and increased exercise.

My 15-year old son has started following the Keto diet. He is not very active physically although he plays badminton occasionally. His days are spent in school and coaching classes, so he doesn’t have time for sports. His weight is 54 kg. Is the Keto diet suitable for him? — Vinita M, Bangalore

The Keto or Ketogenic diet was designed for children suffering seizures. It’s a low-carbs diet which radically changes the body’s natural metabolism. A rising number of people are resorting to the Keto diet for weight loss. But since it turns the body into a fat-burning machine, there may be health complications. Moreover there’s a dearth of long-term studies to evaluate the side effects of Ketogenic diets.

It may be more advisable to follow the USDA Centre for Nutrition Policy and Promotion’s nutritional guide — ‘My Plate’ — and get him to exercise every day.

My children (eight-year-old-girl and five-year-old boy) are often criticised for being underweight. My in-laws and relatives constantly comment on their skin-and-bones look. However they eat normally and are very active. My son’s weight is 13 kg and daughter 20 kg. Should I increase their food intake? — Vinitha Sharma, Bangalore

Paediatricians assess child growth and development on the basis of standardised weight and height scales. Some children are at the third percentile for weight but continue growing along that curve and are healthy. It is a concern only when children show changes in weight over a long period of time.

Your paediatrician will help you track your children’s weight and height through standarised charts. Usually, a child who the growth curve, and has an active lifestyle is doing well. Please encourage a healthy lifestyle with nutritious food and an active day with outdoor play. This is important to ensure optimal growth and development of children.

(Dr. Nisha Miriam George is a paediatric consultant at Sundaram Medical Foundation and Dr. Rangarajan Memorial Hospital, Chennai)

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