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Be Careful with BMI

With all of the news about childhood obesity, and our worries about our own waistlines, some parents have been running off to get a scale and a calculator to figure out the BMI (body mass index) of everyone in the family including the dog.

But before you get too far in your calculations, remember this important fact about BMI: The BMI scale for children and teens is entirely different from the BMI for adults. Specifically, BMI measurements for adults do not differentiate for gender or age. As an adult, if your BMI is over 30, you are considered obese.

However, the BMI scale for children is specific to gender and age. A child is considered obese if his or her BMI is greater than the 95th percentile for his or her age. To use the CDC’s example, a 10-year-old boy with a BMI of 23 would be considered obese, while a 15-year-old boy with a BMI of 23 would be within the healthy range.

So before you run to your pediatrician with concerns about your child’s BMI, make sure you are using the right measurements. For more information on warning signs of childhood obesity, see this Jolly Tomato article.


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