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Interactive Tool: What Is Your Child's BMI? - What do the results mean?

If your child is on the very low end of the percentile scale (for example, the 3rd percentile), you may be concerned that your child is too small. If this is the case, talk to your doctor. It may be that your child has always been small and that this is the normal growth pattern for him or her. Your doctor can check your child to make sure that he or she is growing normally.

Often parents of very small children push their children to eat more because they are concerned about their growth. This can cause problems. The child may resist the pressure to eat and will not gain weight as well as he or she should. Pressuring children to eat usually causes them to eat less, not more. Talk about your child's weight with your doctor. As long as your child is growing normally, you can relax a little about feeding him or her.

If your child is on the upper end of the percentile scale (for example, the 95th percentile), you may be concerned that your child is too big. If this is the case, talk to your doctor. It may be that your child has always been large and that this is the normal growth pattern for him or her. Your doctor can check your child to make sure that he or she is growing normally.

Parents of larger children are sometimes tempted to restrict what their children eat, to keep them from gaining too much weight. This doesn't work. When a child doesn't get enough to eat because food has been restricted, he or she learns to overeat when the chance arises. These children end up gaining more weight, because they become anxious about food and eat more when they get the chance. Again, it is good to discuss your child's weight with a doctor who can help you see if your child's growth is within his or her normal pattern.

Your child's weight over time is the most important thing to think about when you are concerned about what your child's weight should be at any age. Your child's doctor will decide what your child's weight should be, based on what your child's weight has been over time.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 20, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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