• Is Your Child Overweight?

    ScaleThe most obvious answer to that question is to do an eyeball test—simply look 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.

    Another, more objective, measure is BMI, or Body Mass Index. A BMI is not a measure of percent body fat, but an expression of the relationship of a person's weight to his or her height. Standard charts based on children's age and gender, similar to those used in a doctor's office to plot children's growth, are used to plot the BMI. This plot provides a percentile that indicates whether a child is underweight, normal weight, at risk of being overweight or overweight.

    Exactly how to determine and plot your child's BMI percentile to assess his or her level of health risk can be found on the Centers for Disease Control website. 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 Category Percentile Range
    Underweight Less than the 5th percentile
    Healthy weight 5th percentile to less than the 85th percentile
    Overweight 85th to less than the 95th percentile
    Obese Equal to or greater than the 95th percentile

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