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Body fat assessment a tool for watching your child's weight

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Doctors traditionally have used a child’s height and weight to assess their growth compared to their peers. Now they have another tool: body mass index.

The index is a calculation that factors height and weight to estimate body fat. Doctors have been using it more recently, in conjunction with growth charts, to determine if a child's weight is appropriate for their height and age.

To determine your child's BMI, click here for a BMI calculator.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend using the index to screen for weight between the ages of 2 and 20 because obesity has more than doubled in children ages 6 to 11 and quadrupled in adolescents ages 12 to 19 the past 30 years.

Childhood obesity is particularly troubling because the extra pounds often lead to health problems once considered limited to adults, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Poor self-esteem and depression also can result.

If you think your child may be overweight, make an appointment with the pediatrician to discuss how to guide your child on a healthier path.

How to maintain your child’s weight:

  • Encourage physical activity for at least an hour a day.
  • Offer fruits and vegetables at meals and for snacks — at least five servings a day.
  • Limit portion sizes.
  • Offer low-fat milk or water instead of sugary beverages.
  • Limit TV, video games, smartphone, computer and other electronic devices to less than two hours a day.
  • Model this behavior yourself as much as possible.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
American Academy of Pediatrics
Mayo Clinic

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