Body mass index (BMI), which measures weight in relation to
height, is used to identify a possible weight problem for a child. A child with a BMI in the 86th to 94th percentile on a growth chart is usually
considered overweight. A child who has a BMI below the 5th percentile may be considered underweight. Children grow at a different rates. Your doctor can tell you if your child's weight is a concern.
In some cases, a child may be overweight because he or she has a
large amount of body fat (adipose tissue). But not all children with BMIs
in the 86th to 94th percentile have too much body fat. For instance:
A child who has grown consistently at a higher percentile for
most of his or her life may just be bigger than other children of the same age
due to genetics.
Before and during puberty, it is normal for
children to have a significant gain in weight before beginning to grow in
height. This can temporarily increase a child's BMI.
are very muscular (for instance, children who are very active in sports) may
have a higher BMI but have normal or even low amounts of body fat.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.