Keeping tabs on BMI can help monitor if your child is heading towards being overweight or obese - Albuquerque Journal

Keeping tabs on BMI can help monitor if your child is heading towards being overweight or obese

Cathryn Cunningham/Journal

Q: The doctor told my 14-year-old daughter today at her well child visit to keep a watch on her BMI as it was creeping up. What does that mean?

A: Body Mass Index, or BMI for short, has been used for many decades as a means to determine body fat. So everyone’s weight is different, but what does that weight mean for that person is based on that individuals height. Hence the ideal weight for a shorter individual will be less than for a taller individual.

Scientists came up with this idea several decades ago and it has been used extensively across the world by doctors, public health officials and insurance agencies, as it is clear that obese individuals, or those with high BMI’s, are at greater risk of developing “metabolic” illnesses. More about this in the next column.

So how is it measured? The number is obtained by dividing the weight in kilogram by the height in meters and again dividing that value by the height in meters. Hence the number is measured as kg/m². You don’t really have to worry too much about doing the math as there are several BMI calculators available on the internet.

The BMI gives us an estimate of how much fat is in the body. It is a relatively accurate assessment for most individuals, but in some it may overrepresent or underrepresent the fat. For example, in a body builder or an athlete, the muscle mass would be a big component of the weight. So even though the BMI maybe high, the muscle makes up more of the weight than the fat. But these individuals are in the minority.

It is also possible that people from different regions of the world have different “normal” range BMI. Some experts feel, that for Asians, the currently used BMI range may be higher than desired – this means that for the commonly accepted BMI range, Asian individuals may have a higher risk for developing complications of being overweight or obese than their Caucasian counterparts. More research is needed in this area, but some scientists are of the opinion that for the Asian population a BMI of more than 25 kg/m² should be considered as obese.

The BMI range for adults is shown below and are constant numbers because their height is now constant. However, in children, it is different. Children grow in height and hence the normal ranges of the BMI vary with age. It also differs for boys and girls. Hence, BMI in children is more often expressed in percentiles. But again you need not worry – BMI calculators and graphs for different age groups are easily available on the internet (CDC is a good website to visit for this, cdc.gov/healthyweight/bmi/calculator.html).

For the adult population, BMI ranges include:

Underweight: BMI under 18.5 kg/m ²

Normal weight: BMI range from 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m ²

Overweight: BMI range from 25 to 29.9 kg/m ²

Obesity: BMI greater than 30 kg/m ²

Coming back to your question – watch the BMI. This could mean that your daughter’s BMI is moving across percentile lines – ideally it should stay in the same band if she is a well child. Now moving up the percentile lines is definitely more common than moving down. Moving up could mean that she is going from the normal range to over-weight range (between the 85th-95th percentile for that age) or moving into the obesity range (>95th percentile for that age). Moving down the BMI would mean the opposite.

In today’s world where overweight and obesity is rampant, it would be good to calculate the BMI twice a year to ensure that our children stay in the normal range and do not cross percentiles into the overweight or obese category. Trends in the BMI can more accurately predict for the large majority of children if they are becoming too heavy for their height rather than just measuring their weights as they grow taller.Â

More next time about how BMI trends are changing in our country and what does it imply.

Pankaj Vohra is a Pediatric Gastroenterologist at UNM. Please send your questions to pvohra@salud.unm.edu.

 

Home » From the newspaper » Keeping tabs on BMI can help monitor if your child is heading towards being overweight or obese


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
The wisdom of forests? Leave them alone and they ...
From the newspaper
More and more of us understand ... More and more of us understand that forests are not places where individual trees are locked in comp ...
2
How many more will suffer at Forest Service's hands?
From the newspaper
Just in case you have a ... Just in case you have a short memory or haven't lived in fabulous New Mexico for very long, he ...
3
When your employees can't afford to live here
From the newspaper
It's no surprise every hospitality business ... It's no surprise every hospitality business in and around Santa Fe is hiring. But according to ...
4
Editorial: Forest Service must take its missteps and health ...
Editorials
An 85-page U.S. Forest Service review ... An 85-page U.S. Forest Service review of the origins of the Hermits Peak Fire suggests the biggest w ...
5
Thieves take so much more than your cash
Columnists
Being victimized can cause trauma, and ... Being victimized can cause trauma, and has nothing to do with your 'intelligence or common sense'
6
Tips for keeping you and your energy bills cool ...
Columnists
It is hot outside. According to ... It is hot outside. According to PNM, demand for electricity is highest during the summer cooling sea ...
7
Fear-mongering narratives on the border situation show ignorance
From the newspaper
Calls for enforcement fail to recognize ... Calls for enforcement fail to recognize the real challenges
8
Miss O'Keeffe's home sweet home
Arts
Beautiful Chama River Valley drew artist ... Beautiful Chama River Valley drew artist to Abiquiú
9
Roe v. Wade reversal could have ripple effect on ...
ABQnews Seeker
Providers worry an influx of out-of-state ... Providers worry an influx of out-of-state patients could strain state's system