Obesity/Healthy Weight

Girl_3.jpgObesity is a condition in which an excess percentage of body weight (fat) has accumulated and puts a person’s health at risk. For children older than 2 years old, obesity is determined by measuring the child’s Body Mass Index (BMI).

For children and adolescents, BMI is age- and sex- specific. To determine a child or teen’s BMI, your doctor compares the patient’s weight and height to estimate a healthy body weight based on how tall the patient is. Your child’s BMI can tell you the following:

  • Less than 18.5% = underweight
  • 18.5% – 24.9% = normal weight
  • 25% – 29.9% = overweight
  • 30% or greater = obesity

To calculate you or your child’s BMI, use the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s BMI Calculator. Obese and overweight children and teens are at a higher risk for many health problems, including:

  • asthma
  • sleep apnea
  • skin infections
  • joint pain
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Type 2 Diabetes

In addition to physical health risks, obese and overweight children and teens are at risk for many emotional and social problems as well. Teasing, bullying and discrimination from their peers usually cause these children and teens to have low self-esteem, a negative body image and depression.

To learn more about childhood and adolescent obesity, please visit the American Academy of Pediatrics’ page on Overweight and Obesity.