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Back to basics: A review in the criteria defining obesity in children and adults

Posted Oct 12 2009 10:01pm

OK, so we hear a lot about being, heavy, chubby, baby fat, overweight, obese... What exactly are the criteria for overweight or obesity, anyway?  Let's go back to basics for a bit...

Although not infallible, the best way that we have to determine medically, uniformly and objectively, whether or not a child or adult is overweight, obese, or at risk of becoming so, is the  Body Mass Index (BMI).  It is a calculation measured by the weight, height, and a invariable factor.  

For  CHILD and TEEN BMI  ages 2-20 years:

In children and teens, determining whether they are overweight or obese is determined first by obtaining their BMI calculation and then comparing it to their age and sex. Age- and sex- specific growth charts let us know in which percentile they rank compared to other children -- whether they are :

  • Underweight: less then 5% percentile
  • Healthy for age: 5-84% percentile
  • Overweight: 85-94% percentile
  • Obese: >95% percentile

For some children, it is important to maintain a certain weight as they grow.  For others, it will be important to lose a certain amount of weight.  Treatment depends, as well, if they have medical complications such as diabetes and high cholesterol or elevated blood pressure.

It is possible to see where your child ranks on the CDC website  Child and Teen BMI Calculator.

For  ADULT BMI, following is the criteria: 

  • Overweight: 25 - 29.9
  • Obese: >30
For adults, to find out how your weight measures up and your BMI, click on the banners on this website to the right or at the bottom and sign up!

Picture by mashe, PhotoXpress
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