Raising Fit Kids: Healthy Weight

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How do healthcare professionals talk about a child's body mass index (BMI)?

ANSWER

For a child, you won't usually hear a plain number, like 25, but rather a percentile, like 75th. This shows how a child's BMI compares to other children of the same age and gender.

The results are grouped into weight categories:

  • Underweight: below the 5th percentile
  • Healthy Weight: 5th percentile to the 85th percentile
  • Overweight: 85th percentile to the 95th percentile
  • Obese: 95th percentile or higher

From: What Parents Should Know About BMI WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

Lawrence Cheskin, MD, associate professor, Johns Hopkins Medical School; director, Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center, Baltimore.

William H. Dietz, MD, PhD, director, division of nutrition, physical activity, and obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC, Atlanta.

Karen Donato, SM, coordinator, overweight and obesity research applications, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.

Dan Kirschenbaum, PhD, vice president, clinical services, Wellspring -- a Division of CRC Health; director, Center for Behavioral Medicine & Sport Psychology, Chicago; professor, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago.

Ann O. Scheimann, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, Johns Hopkins Children's Center, Baltimore.

CDC: "About BMI for Children and Teens."

CRC Health Group: My Overweight Child: "Knowing When to Intervene in the Life an Overweight Child."

Barlow, S. , 2007. Pediatrics

Healthy Children.org: "Is Your Child Overweight?"

Freedman, D. , September, 2009. Pediatrics

"Expert Committee Recommendations of the Assessment, Prevention and Treatment of Child and Adolescent Overweight & Obesity," 2007.

Reviewed by Renee A. Alli on February 13, 2018

SOURCES:

Lawrence Cheskin, MD, associate professor, Johns Hopkins Medical School; director, Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center, Baltimore.

William H. Dietz, MD, PhD, director, division of nutrition, physical activity, and obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC, Atlanta.

Karen Donato, SM, coordinator, overweight and obesity research applications, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.

Dan Kirschenbaum, PhD, vice president, clinical services, Wellspring -- a Division of CRC Health; director, Center for Behavioral Medicine & Sport Psychology, Chicago; professor, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago.

Ann O. Scheimann, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, Johns Hopkins Children's Center, Baltimore.

CDC: "About BMI for Children and Teens."

CRC Health Group: My Overweight Child: "Knowing When to Intervene in the Life an Overweight Child."

Barlow, S. , 2007. Pediatrics

Healthy Children.org: "Is Your Child Overweight?"

Freedman, D. , September, 2009. Pediatrics

"Expert Committee Recommendations of the Assessment, Prevention and Treatment of Child and Adolescent Overweight & Obesity," 2007.

Reviewed by Renee A. Alli on February 13, 2018

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How do I know if my child's BMI is high?

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