Growth & Skill Development
Is your child at a healthy weight?
Is your child's weight healthy? With all the recent news about childhood obesity in America, you may be wondering what's considered normal.
How Is Obesity Defined in Children?
When your child turns 2 years old, your health care provider will calculate his body mass index (BMI). Body mass index is an estimated measure of body fatness that's calculated using a child's height and weight. A child with a BMI greater than the 85th percentile (but less than the 95th percentile) for age and sex is considered overweight; when a BMI is at or above the 95th percentile, he is considered obese. You can determine your child's BMI using our Child Growth Tracker. Make sure to talk to your child's health care provider about how to interpret the numbers you see on the BMI Calculator.
Causes of Childhood Obesity
Eating or drinking more calories than the body needs is one of the main reasons for the rise in the number of obese children. This can be influenced by genetics, learned behaviors, and/or your child's environment.
What You Can Do
To help promote healthy weight, follow these tips:
- Offer your child a variety of nutrient-dense foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
- Limit foods that provide minimal nutrition for calories, such as soft drinks and treats.
- Be sure to serve him appropriate portion sizes.
- Encourage him to follow his hunger and fullness cues. It's okay if your child doesn't eat all the food that's on his plate. As long as he eats a variety of healthy foods throughout the week, he'll get a balanced diet.
If you think your child may be overweight, do not put him on a low-calorie diet. It may lack the energy and nutrients he needs to grow properly. Talk with your health care provider or a registered dietitian to learn about a healthy growth pattern for your child.
Learn more about nutrition for your child age 2 and older.
The content in this article is not meant for diagnosis and is provided for information only. If you have any concerns about your child's weight, speak with his health care provider.