Pediatric Obesity and BMI :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

Pediatric Obesity

Parents: Know Your Child’s BMI

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using body mass index (BMI) to screen for overweight children beginning at age 2 and through age 19. BMI highlights the risk for serious medical conditions and is a good indicator of whether or not a child will grow into an overweight adult.

To calculate BMI, the child’s weight is divided by his/her height squared and the result multiplied by 703 (weight ÷ height2 x 703). Calculate a child’s BMI. Once parents determine their child’s BMI, they should discuss it with their doctor.

  • Children with BMIs between the 85th and 95th percentiles are considered overweight.
  • Children with a BMI above the 95th percentile are considered obese.

Because children can grow quickly, especially during puberty, the child’s doctor can best interpret whether a BMI score is concerning.

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What We Know About Kids and Obesity Today

Currently 30% of American youth are overweight or obese*

  • In 2 to 3-year-olds, overweight prevalence is up 40% since 1994
  • Incidence of overweight has doubled for children 2 to 5 years old since 1970
  • 10% of preschoolers are overweight
  • Overweight 2-year-olds are twice as likely to become an obese adult
  • Obese 6-year-olds have a 50% risk of obesity at 35 years old
  • Obese 10-year-olds have a 70 to 80% risk of obesity at 35 years old

Source: Bray 2002,Freedman D, et al 1999; Dietz 1998a, Dietzs 1998b,Guo et al. 2002; Kramer 2002; Kvaavik et al. 2003; Must 2003; Polk 2005; Whitaker et al. 1997; WIC 2002

* Richard H. Carmona, MD, MPH, FACS, Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2004

According to the Ohio’s Children Healthy Ohio Program 2009:

  • Ohio ranks 15th highest in nation in obesity rate
  • Nearly 19% of Ohio 3rd graders are overweight and 17% are obese
  • 33.9% of Hispanic, 25.3% black, and 27.2% white children in Ohio are overweight or obese

Reaching Their Full Potential

Obesity is one of ten indicators presenting critical preventable health threats for Franklin County, Ohio children. Read information on "Full Potential Community Report: Facts About Growing Up Healthy in Franklin County".

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