Answered by Dr. Karen Young for ParentsConnect:
I've been hearing a lot about the childhood obesity epidemic. How do I know if my child is obese?
Right off the bat, I can give you two pieces of good news:
1) If you are asking that question, then your child must not be significantly overweight, or you would be able to tell just by looking at him.
2) We actually do not use the term "obese" in weight categories in childhood. The categories are: "underweight," "normal weight," "at risk of overweight" and "overweight." However, there is currently some debate by experts at the national level about bringing back the term "obese" to convey the seriousness of the health risk in massively overweight youth.
To determine what weight category your child your child is in, you first must calculate your child's Body Mass Index (BMI). This is a reasonably accurate screening tool that helps decide if your child is the right weight for their height. (The height is squared to account for tall stature or else all tall children would be considered overweight!) However, BMI does not take into account bone or muscle density, so if you think your child is big-boned or is a muscular athlete, further testing by a health professional may be needed to determine body-fat percentage more accurately. After all, it is excess body fat that is the health risk in obesity, not muscle!
You can use the CDC's BMI calculator to determine BMI for your child.
Are you concerned about the childhood obesity epidemic? Let us know below!
More from ParentsConnect: