Measuring Childhood Obesity

Measuring Child Obesity Using Weight-to-height charts

These tables 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. The tables, however, do not take into account the individual characteristics of each child. The healthcare provider must consider the child's age and growth pattern when interpreting the chart. For example, some children gain weight before a growth spurt. This doesn't mean they are becoming obese (see childhood obesity definition).

Measuring Obesity in Children Using BMI-for-Age Percentiles chart:

measuring childhood obesityObesity in children (referred to as “overweight” in the weight status category table) is determined by using BMI-for-age percentiles. BMI-for-age percentiles is a favored method to measure weight status in children. This method calculates your child’s weight category based on age and BMI, which is a calculation of weight and height. However, it should be kept in mind that this method, among other methods, should be used as a tool, and only a physician can best determine and diagnose (see diagnosing childhood obesity) weight status in your child.

Before measuring a child’s BMI-for-age percentile, you must first calculate his/her Body Mass Index (BMI). To locate, a Body Mass Index chart with weights and heights appropriate for children, please see the chart below which includes weights and heights appropriate for children. If your child’s BMI is not listed on chart, calculate body mass index on the Internet, fill in the child's height and weight at the Web site of the Department of Health and Human Services, Obesity Education Initiative.

Body Mass Index (BMI) Chart:

Body Mass Index Chart

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child obesityOnce you calculate his/her BMI (see childhood obesity bmi), find the age of the child on the bottom of the BMI-for-age percentile chart (follow below links for boy or girl) and look to the left or right to locate their BMI.Age and sex are considered for children and teens for two reasons:
The amount of body fat changes with age. (BMI for children and teens is often referred to as BMI-for-age.)
The amount of body fat differs between girls and boys

BMI-for-Age Percentile Chart For Boys

BMI-for-Age Percentile Chart For Girls

childhood obesity bmi

Plot the point on the graph using a pen or pencil. Once you have plotted the measurement, locate the corresponding shaded color on the bottom of the chart to determine your child’s BMI-for-age percentile. You are then able to find your child’s weight status by viewing the Weight Status Category table located to the right of the chart (see childhood obesity charts).

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 obesity in children. 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 child obesity.[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 child obesity as weighing 20% or more over the healthy range.[Read More]
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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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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.[Read more]

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