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Home > Wellness > Health Library > Interactive Tool: What Is Your Child's BMI?
here to find out your child's BMI (body mass index). This tool
can be used for children ages 2 through 19. Be cautious if you use this tool or
any height and weight charts to assess your child's growth after he or she
reaches puberty. Check with your doctor if you have questions.
This tool uses your child's weight and height to compare your
child's size to that of other boys or girls of the same age. Not all children
are the same. Some are naturally larger and some are naturally smaller. Your
child's size will be given two numbers—a BMI value and its percentile. The
percentile is the number that ranks your child's size among other children of
the same gender and age.
What's most important is that your child
is at the same percentile over time, so it takes several measurements to assess
your child's growth. You should talk with your doctor if your child
suddenly shifts up or down in percentile. A gradual
change from one percentile to another is probably not a cause for
Talk with your doctor if you are concerned about your
child's weight. Finding that a child is "overweight" or "underweight" is a
medical diagnosis. Your doctor can give you steps to take to help your child
reach and stay at a healthy weight.
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
If your child is on the
very low end of the percentile scale (for example, the 3rd percentile), you may
be concerned that your child is too small. If this is the case, talk to your
doctor. It may be that your child has always been small and that this is the
normal growth pattern for him or her. Your doctor can check your child to make
sure that he or she is growing normally.
Often parents of very
small children push their children to eat more because they are concerned about
their growth. This can cause problems. The child may resist the pressure to eat
and will not gain weight as well as he or she should. Pressuring children to
eat usually causes them to eat less, not more. Talk about your child's weight
with your doctor. As long as your child is growing normally, you can relax a
little about feeding him or her.
If your child is on the upper end
of the percentile scale (for example, the 95th percentile), you may be
concerned that your child is too big. If this is the case, talk to your doctor.
It may be that your child has always been large and that this is the normal
growth pattern for him or her. Your doctor can check your child to make sure
that he or she is growing normally.
Parents of larger children are
sometimes tempted to restrict what their children eat, to keep them from
gaining too much weight. This doesn't work. When a child doesn't get enough to
eat because food has been restricted, he or she learns to overeat when the
chance arises. These children end up gaining more weight, because they become
anxious about food and eat more when they get the chance. Again, it is good to
discuss your child's weight with a doctor who can help you see if your child's
growth is within his or her normal pattern.
Your child's weight
over time is the most important thing to think about when you are
concerned about what your child's weight should be at any age. Your child's
doctor will decide what your child's weight should be, based on what your
child's weight has been over time.
If you are concerned about your child's
weight, or if your child has had a large change in BMI (whether up or down),
talk to your doctor. Remember that BMI-for-age is just a guide.
If your child does have a weight problem, you and your doctor can talk
about what you can do to help, such as providing healthy foods and helping your
child to be more active.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011). Healthy weight—It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle! About BMI for children and teens. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/childrens_bmi/about_childrens_bmi.html.
For more information, see these topics:
Other Works Consulted
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011). Healthy weight—It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle! About BMI for children and teens. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/childrens_bmi/about_childrens_bmi.html.
August 30, 2011
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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