A child's health care provider is the best health resource. The provider can help assess a child's Body Mass Index or BMI, a good way to determine a child's risk for overweight or obesity. The BMI formula helps determine whether a child's weight is in proportion to his or her height.
To make this determination, children are classified in a BMI percentile – an indication of how a child's measurements compare to others of the same age and gender. A child whose BMI is at the 50th percentile is close to the average of the population. A child above the 95th percentile is considered obese because 95 percent of the population weighs less than he or she does. A child below the 5th percentile is considered underweight because 95 percent of the population weighs more.
If a child falls into the at-risk percentile, the child's health care provider can help recommend changes in eating or activity habits that can benefit the whole family. A registered dietitian is uniquely qualified to help families recognize and change eating habits that could be contributing to excess weight gain in a child.
When speaking with a child's health care provider, consider the following:
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