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What is Child Overweight?

Overweight in children or adolescents is not assessed in the same way as adult weight. For adult men and women, the standard clinical tool for identifying overweight and obesity is the Body Mass Index (BMI), a height-to-weight scale, which is relatively easy to use but slightly imprecise as it takes no specific account of fat percentage, and applies equally to both genders. However, in order to measure overweight in children or teenagers, a measurement called “percentile of Body Mass Index” is used.

Percentiles of Body Mass Index Used to Assess Child Weight

The weight of children and adolescents (aged 12-19) is measured with reference to gender-specific growth charts developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). A BMI-for-age is plotted on these charts and shows a child’s BMI in relation to that of other children. Please see also : Weight Chart For Children (Girls) and Weight Chart For Children (Boys)

Each of the BMI-for-age charts contains wavy lines indicating specific percentiles. If a child’s weight falls between (eg) the 50th and 75th percentile, it means that his/her weight falls into the category occupied by 50-75 percent of other children of the same gender and age.

When is a Child or Teenager Overweight?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not use the word “obesity” for children or teenagers. Instead, they use two markers for overweight. These are: (1) the 85th percentile, which they consider to be the “at risk” level, which roughly corresponds to the overweight marker for adults, which is a BMI of 25; (2) the 95th percentile, which they consider to be the more “severe” level, which roughly corresponds to the obesity marker for adults, which is a BMI of 30. For its own part, the American Obesity Association utilizes the 85th percentile as a reference point for “overweight” and the 95th percentile for “obesity”.

When is a Child or Teenager Underweight?

A child or adolescent is classified as underweight when his/her weight falls below the 5th percentile.

Child Weight Status Determined By Individual Examination

Even if a child’s weight falls between the 5th and 85th percentiles, this does not necessarily mean that he/she has a healthy weight. The charts are used as markers, and results may indicate a need for children and teens to have an individual medical assessment. Your child’s weight status can only be properly assessed by your doctor on the basis of individual examinations conducted over time. This method is required to allow for growth spurts which may otherwise skew your child’s BMI-for-age.

 

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