Helping the Overweight Child - How to know if your child is overweight
"Overweight" and "at
risk of overweight" are terms sometimes used when referring to children who
weigh more than expected. Doctors use the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention growth charts or the
body mass index (BMI) to measure a child's weight in
relation to his or her height. To find out your child's BMI, use this
Interactive Tool: Is Your Child at a Healthy Weight?
If you have concerns that your child is
overweight or at risk of becoming so, first ask your
doctor to review your child's growth charts and medical history with
- If your child's BMI has been high on the growth chart from
birth, this may be his or her healthy size and growth rate. He or she may
simply be bigger than other children of the same gender and age.
your child's BMI pattern has suddenly jumped from a lower range to a higher
range on the growth chart, your child may be at risk of becoming overweight.
Your doctor will carefully track growth over time, watching for a change in the
rate of weight gain.
- If your family has a
obesity, your child has a higher risk of becoming
Sometimes a child's BMI and weight can increase without a
child being at risk of having too much body fat. For instance, before and
during puberty it is normal for children to have a significant gain in weight
before they begin to grow in height. Also, children who are very muscular (such
as children who are very active in sports), may have a high BMI but have normal
or even lower-than-normal amounts of body fat.
If your child's BMI
and growth pattern suggest a weight problem, your doctor will give your child
an exam that looks for health problems that can cause weight gain. This may
include questions about
eating and physical activity habits. Regular checkups
for health problems will also be important over time.