Body Mass Index

Body Mass Index

Our pediatricians at Somerset Pediatric Group discuss many topics with you and your child during their well visit. One of those topics, in addition to vaccination and disease prevention, is growth and development. One way to assess growth and development is to calculate your child’s BMI.

BMI (Body Mass Index) is a calculated way to assess weight and allow predictions of obesity. In children ages 2-20, the BMI is age and gender adjusted because of how their bodies change as they develop. 

BMI CategoryBMI Range
UnderweightBMI for age less than (<) 5th percentile
Normal/Healthy WeightBMI for age 5- 85th percentile
At Risk for being OverweightBMI for age 85-95th percentile
OverweightBMI for age is greater than (>) 95th percentile

Why is assessing weight important?

Currently 1 in 5 children are overweight. Three out of four obese children at age 12 will be obese as an adult. Obese children are at risk for Type 2 Diabetes. This increases their risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, orthopedic problems, asthma, sleep apnea, diabetes, high cholesterol, and early sexual development in girls. Additionally, overweight children are often teased, have low self-esteem and can lead to higher rates of depression.

Risks for obesity

Genetics plays a role in childhood obesity. More importantly, it is the combination of eating too much and moving too little. Fried, high calorie foods and watching a lot of television and video games are a major culprit. Obesity develops over time and change is a slow steady process. The goal is not dieting but developing lifelong habits of healthy eating and physical activity. Parents are role models.

If parents choose healthy snacks and an active lifestyle, children will form similar habits. Parent's, here's how to help:

  • Be supportive. Older children know they are overweight. They need acceptance, encouragement and love.
  • Limit television, computers and video games.
  • Plan active family activities-hiking, biking, washing the car.
  • Eat family meals and enjoy the conversation, as well as the food.
  • Don’t use food as rewards. (i.e. finish your dinner and you can have dessert.)
  • Keep healthy snacks-fruits, vegetables, low fat cheese, yogurt, frozen fruit bars, graham crackers.
  • Avoid super sizing meals. Avoid frying foods. Encourage a variety of food choices including a lot of fruits and vegetables.
  • Minimize juices and sodas. Water is best to quench thirst.
  • Children older than 3, should drink skim or low fat milk.
  • Praise your child for healthy food choices and physical activity, criticism and punishment don’t work. Focus on feeling stronger and having fun, not on weight loss/gain.
  • Teach your child ways to deal with stress other than turning to food for comfort.
  • The Academy of Pediatrics and Somerset Pediatrics recommend limiting of television, video games and computers to a maximum of 2 hours a day.

**If you have any concerns, you can always contact your Pediatrician at Somerset Pediatric Group**

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