What You Need to Know About Your Child’s BMI

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on May 3, 2018 · 17 comments

In the US over 18% of children aged 6 to 11 years old are obese. For little ones, aged 2 to 5, almost 14% are obese. We are not talking about a chubby child. Obesity at this early age means significant weight gain for their age. Portion distortion is a contributing factor.

Obesity is measured by BMI (body mass index) which calculates weight and height for age and sex. Specific BMI measurements have been established for kids taking into account that their bodies change as they grow and that these changes vary between boys and girls.

For example, a 10-year-old boy of average height (56 inches) who weighs 102 pounds would be in the 95th percentile for BMI. He would be obese for his age, sex and height and heavier than 95% of comparable 10-year-old boys.

You child would be considered:

Underweight if their BMI is less than the 5th percentile.

Normal or healthy weight if their BMI falls above the 5th and below the 85th percentile.

Overweight if their BMI is between the 85th and 95th percentile.

Obese if their BMI is at the 95th percentile or higher.

Parents and pediatricians often do not discuss weight but it might be wise to bring up the subject at your next routine visit. It would give you a good idea of where your child stands relative to other children her age.

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