Understanding your Body Mass Index (BMI)

Posted: July 26, 2011 in Obesity Medicine by

Body Mass Index — also called BMI — is an easy way for health care providers to get a quick, general idea of whether a child’s weight and height are proportionate. Calculating BMI can help determine whether a child is at risk for childhood obesity.

BMI can be calculated by measuring a patient’s height and weight. These figures are then plugged into a formula that gives the BMI as a two digit number. In adults, a BMI that is between 25 and 30 is considered healthy. In children, BMI is calculated, and is then compared to the BMIs of other children in the same age group.

Children in the lowest 5th percentile are considered underweight. Children who are in the top 5th percentile for their height and age are considered overweight. Those who are in the 85th to 95th percentile are considered at risk of becoming overweight. While Body Mass Index does not measure body fat directly, it can be an indicator of whether a child should be put on a medical weight loss program. In almost all cases, BMI is a reliable indicator of whether a person is overweight.

Your doctor may recommend that your child begins to lose weight if they are in the 85th percentile or higher. While “at risk of becoming overweight” may sound like the child currently is at a healthy weight, it actually means that he or she currently weighs more than is ideal.

It is important to help overweight children attain a healthy BMI. Studies show that being overweight as a child increases an adult’s risk of being overweight, and potentially suffering from weight-related illnesses later on. Talk to a doctor in the Phoenix area who has experience in pediatric weight loss.