obesity in children is a serious health concern. Overweight children are more likely to have
high blood pressure, and
type 2 diabetes. They also have to deal with social discrimination from their peers, which can lead to poor self-esteem and
depression. What’s more, overweight kids have a higher chance of becoming overweight or obese adults.
But what does this mean? How do you know if your child is overweight? The best way to find out is to schedule a visit with your child's pediatrician or family doctor, who can tell you if your child’s weight is in a healthy range. But if you are concerned that your child may be overweight, there are some other ways you can assess your child’s weight.
Methods for Assessing Children’s Weight
Clinical Growth Charts
Your pediatrician or family doctor will likely measure your child’s height and weight to monitor growth patterns during regular appointments. Most doctors use clinical growth charts to make these determinations.
The doctor will use your child’s height and weight to determine what “percentile” your child falls into according to an age- and gender-appropriate growth chart. A percentile will tell you how your child’s height and weight compare to a nationally representative group of children of the same age and gender. For example, if your child falls into the 70th percentile for weight, approximately 70% of children your child’s age and gender are at a lower weight than your child.
Clinical growth charts can be accessed at the
National Center for Health Statistics
BMI-for-Age Growth Charts
For children aged 2-20, BMI (body mass index)-for-age charts are a way to assess their weight in relation to their height. Since childrens’ and teens’ body fatness fluctuates as they grow, the cutoff points that adults use for BMI are not applicable to children. Instead, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed charts for assessing children’s BMI according to their age and gender. Like clinical growth charts, BMI-for-age charts indicate which percentile your child falls into.
BMI-for-age growth charts can be accessed at the
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
The CDC has established percentile cutoff points to help doctors and parents determine whether a child is of a healthy weight. Body composition (percentage of muscle and fat) can influence these numbers, but for most children, the following cutoff points apply accurately to children aged 2-20:
||Cutoff Point of BMI for age
||Less than the 5th percentile
||5th precentile-84th percentile
||95th percentile or greater