• ScaleHow Can You Decide Whether or Not Your Child is Overweight?

    The most obvious answer to that question is do an "eye-ball" test- simply looking at your child to determine whether his or her weight and height are out of proportion. If you believe your child is overweight, ask your school nurse, doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant to evaluate your child.

    There is another more objective measure to use to tell if your child is overweight and at risk for health and nutritional disorders. This is the BMI, or Body Mass Index. A BMI is not a measure of percent body fat, but an expression of relationships of a person's weight to his or her height. Standard charts, based on children's age and gender similiar to those used in a doctors office to plot children's growth, are used to plot the BMI. This plot allows one to get a percentile that indicates whether a child is underweight, normal weight, at risk to be overweight or are overweight.

    Exactly how to determine and plot your child's BMI percentile assesses to his or her level of health risk for over or under weight can be found on the Centers for Disease Control website at this link: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/childrens_bmi/about_childrens_bmi.html#How is BMI calculated.  Your school nurse can do this as well.

    *Note that the procedures for determining a child's BMI differs from those for adults and require use of appropriate charts based on age and gender. BMI calculations for children are assessed based on a percentile for age and BMI.

    *Find the weight status category for the calculated BMI-for-age percentile as shown in the following table. These categories are based on expert committee recommendations.


    Weight Status CategoryPercentile Range
    UnderweightLess than the 5th percentile
    Healthy weight5th percentile to less than the 85th percentile
    Overweight85th to less than the 95th percentile
    ObeseEqual to or greater than the 95th percentile

           Source: NASA. (2003). Promoting Healthy Weight. Castle Rock, CO.