The Body Mass Index Scale For Children

If you are concerned with your child’s weight, the body mass index children is one tool that can be used to determine if they are within a healthy range. With the increase in childhood obesity in the US, along with the related health problems that go along with obesity, using the BMI formula to determine if your child is overweight or underweight is a very simple and effective solution.

What is the BMI?

Body mass index is a tool widely used in the medical community to determine is a person is underweight, of healthy weight, overweight, or obese. It uses a simple formula that is calculated using your weight and height and is considered effective for children 2 and older. To determine your child’s body mass index, complete the following equation:

BMI = weight (pounds) x 703

Height2 (inches2)

What Does the Result Mean?

For adults 18 and older, BMI is interpreted by using the same standard weight categories, regardless of age for both men and women. The children’s BMI calculations are a bit more intricate, using both the standard BMI numbers, as well as a comparison to typical children of the same age and sex.

The general weight categories are:

  • Underweight: 16.5 to 18.5
  • Normal: 18.5 to 25
  • Overweight: 25 to 30
  • Obese: Over 30
  • Morbidly Obese: Over 40

Along with these numbers, your child’s weight is then be compared to that of typical children in his or her same age range and measured based on percentiles. A child with a BMI less than the 5th percentile is considered underweight and with a BMI above the 95th percentile is considered obese, while a BMI between 85th and 95th percentiles is considered to be overweight.

How Obesity Affects Health

Obesity is a growing concern in children for many reasons. The first one is that is adversely affects the emotional and psychological health of your child. It also leads to a number of life-threatening diseases and conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Studies have often shown that overweight children are more likely to become overweight adults, and can suffer many ill effects from their peers that lead to low self esteem and depression.

By making dietary changes and increasing physical activity in your child’s life, you can greatly reduce your child’s risk of becoming obese. Encourage daily activity, and find healthy alternatives to fast food and other high fat snacks that create unhealthy eating habits. Making these changes now can positively affect their health throughout their entire lives.


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