The BMI percentile should give you a good idea. Similar to the BMI index for adults, the BMI percentile charts a child’s weight onto the standard BMI growth chart and then compares the child’s BMI to other children of the same age and gender. The resulting categories are underweight (less than 5th percentile), healthy weight (5th to 85th percentile), overweight (85th to 95th percentile) and obese (95th percentile or higher). You can figure out your child’s BMI percentile with this handy online calculator: apps.nccd.cdc.gov/dnpabmi
Parents justify their kids weight issues with excuses like being big boned or just waiting for a growth spurt. However, research shows that kids that are overweight before they hit puberty are 20 times more likely to be overweight than after puberty. Don’t forget that excess weight is a risk factor for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and fatty liver disease. Even in kids. Many doctors believe that in our overweight society we have lost sight of what a healthy weight looks like.
So what is a parent to do?
- Pay attention to your child’s BMI percentile and don’t make excuses
- Be a good example of healthy eating
- Focus on health and not weight in your conversations at home with your child
- Don’t use the TV as a babysitter. Get out of the house and move!
- Limit eating to the kitchen table. Unconscious eating in front of the TV leads to extra calories
- Cook at home. Even the simplest sandwich is healthier than fast food