Do You Know How to Tell if Your Child is Overweight?

USA Today reports that research published online in Pediatrics suggests that approximately “half of parents with overweight or obese children don’t think their kids are too heavy.”

Investigators looked at data from reviewed 69 studies that included a total of nearly 16,000 children. The researchers found that “51% of parents with overweight or obese children thought their kids were a normal weight.” Additionally, approximately “14% of parents with normal-weight kids considered their child underweight.”

How is BMI used with children and teens?

BMI is used as a screening tool to identify possible weight problems for children. CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend the use of BMI to screen for overweight and obesity in children beginning at 2 years old.

For children, BMI is used to screen for obesity, overweight, healthy weight, or underweight. However, BMI is not a diagnostic tool. For example, a child may have a high BMI for age and sex, but to determine if excess fat is a problem, a health care provider would need to perform further assessments. These assessments might include skinfold thickness measurements, evaluations of diet, physical activity, family history, and other appropriate health screenings.

(Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Calculate your child’s BMI using the following BMI calculator (note: the results are configured for adult BMI, so use the chart below to determine what your number means for your child): 

Powered by BMI Calculator

Find the weight status category for the calculated BMI-for-age percentile as shown in the following table. These categories are based on expert committee recommendations.

Weight Status Category Percentile Range
Underweight Less than the 5th percentile
Healthy weight 5th percentile to less than the 85th percentile
Overweight 85th to less than the 95th percentile
Obese Equal to or greater than the 95th percentile

See the following example of how some sample BMI numbers would be interpreted for a 10-year-old boy.


For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. 

On February 5, 2014, posted in: News by
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