- Physicians use Body Mass Index (BMI) charts to help assess and monitor growth in children.
- The CDC recently announced a revised version of the children and adolescent BMI chart.
- The new chart has been extended to cover higher BMI measurements of ‘severe obesity’.
- According to CDC data, more than 4.5 million US kids and adolescents are considered severely obese.
Physicians have long used the Body Mass Index (BMI) chart to estimate whether an individual’s body composition and growth is ‘healthy’ compared to the wider population.
There are two charts, one for adults and one for children — and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced an update to the chart designed for those between 2 and 20 years old.
The revised chart has been extended to cover higher BMI measurements. This measure comes as the CDC said that in 2018 more than 4.5 million children and adolescents in the US were reported to have severe obesity.
“The new growth charts, coupled with high-quality treatment, can help optimize care for children with severe obesity” Dr. Karen Hacker, director of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, said in a statement.
Before diving into the new changes, let’s take a quick look at what BMI charts are and how they work.
These charts take the height and weight of an individual to create a figure. This number is then compared to people of the same age and gender to gauge whether their overall body mass is considered ‘healthy’.
“Depending on where the child falls on the chart, a healthcare provider can quickly see if the child is underweight, in the ideal weight range, overweight, or obese,” explained Dr. David Berger, founder of Dr. David, MD and Wholistic Pediatrics & Family Care.
“The chart data is plotted based on percentiles, and the healthy range for BMI changes over age,” Berger shared with Healthline.
Percentiles are a method of grouping and ‘ranking’ for easier comparison. For instance, if a child’s BMI falls within the 60th percentile, it means that 60% of kids the same age had the same or lower BMI score.
How the children’s BMI chart has changed
The previous iteration of the chart, released in 2000, was based on data collected between 1963 and 1980, when levels of obesity among children were lower.
According to the CDC, a child …….