Diagnosing Childhood Obesity

Tests and diagnosis of child obesity

diagnosing childhood obesity Doctors and other health care professionals are the best people to find out whether a child or teen's weight is healthy, and they can help in ruling-out rare medical conditions as the effects of childhood obesity (see childhood obesity effects).The doctor calculates your child's body mass index (BMI) measurements of height and weight and determines where it falls on the BMI-for-age growth chart (see childhood obesity charts) , A child is seen to be obese if his/her BMI exceeds the cut-off point for his/her age. Cutoff points on these growth charts, established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), help identify overweight and obese children (see childhood obesity growth charts)

Doctors and other health professionals also consider a child's age and growth patterns to determine whether his or her weight is healthy. A Growth charts, such as weight-for-age and weight-for-height, are also used to determine your child's percentile, meaning how your child compares with other children of the same sex and age (see measuring childhood obesity). So, for example, you might be told that your child is in the 80th percentile. This means that compared with other children of the same sex and age, 80 percent have a lower BMI (see childhood obesity bmi).

Using some diagnostic signs, physicians may help determine risk for obesity in children, such as:

Family history of obesity.

Family history of obesity-related health risks such as early cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure levels, type 2 diabetes.

Family history of cigarette smoking and sedentary behaviors.

child obesity

Signs in the child obesity-related health risks from a pediatrician's evaluation including:
     • Cardiac Risk Factors. Studies of children with obesity show higher than average blood pressure, heart rate and cardiac output when compared to children without obesity.
     • Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors. This involves glucose intolerance and insulin levels that are higher than average.
     • Orthopedic Problems. Some symptoms include weight stress in the joints of the lower limbs, tibial torsion and bowed legs, and slipped capital femoral epiphysis (especially in boys).
     • Skin disorders. Some are heat rash, intertrigo, monilial dermatitis and acanthosis nigricans.
     • Psychological / Psychiatric Issues. Poor self-esteem, negative self-image, depression, and withdrawal from peers have been associated with obesity.

Patterns of sedentary behavior (such as too much television viewing) and low physical activity levels.

Taller height - children with obesity are often above the 50th percentile in height.

Smoking initiation. Research studies show that youngsters use smoking as a method of weight control. Parents, pediatricians and schools should work together to discourage smoking as a weight control behavior for three main reasons:
     • smoking is not likely to be successful in controlling weight
     • smoking is itself harmful, and
     • smoking is associated with a decrease in sound nutrition and physical activity patterns.

childhood obesity preventionTips for parents

What can you do as a parent or guardian or caregiver to help preventing childhood obesity? We have some ideas in our Childhood Obesity Prevention section.

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childhood obesity definitionChildhood Obesity Definition
Body mass index (BMI)is a measure used defining childhood obesity. BMI can be calculated using either English or metric units. BMI is a measure of weight in relation to height that is used to determine weight status.[Read more]
childhood obesity bmiChildhood Obesity BMI
Body Mass Index (BMI) is the most common method to measure adult obesity. However, BMI is now becoming a popular tool, which is combined with BMI-for-age percentiles, used to measure obesity in children.[Read More]
measuring childhood obesityMeasuring Childhood Obesity
For children and adolescents (aged 2–19 years), BMI is calculated and the BMI number is plotted on the BMI-for-age growth charts to obtain a percentile ranking. Separate charts for boys and girls are used.[Read More]
childhood obesity chartsChildhood Obesity Charts
These charts give general ranges of healthy weights and overweight for a child's height. Many health care providers define childhood obesity as weighing 20% or more over the healthy range.[Read More]
childhood obesity growth chartsChildhood Obesity Growth Charts
Growth charts show doctors how kids are growing compared with other kids of the same gender and age. It also helps to see the way kids' height and weight gain over time, and whether they're developing proportionately.[Read More]

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