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National Weight Guidelines for Children

by Sharon Perkins , studioD

Many adults aren't just worrying about their own weight in 2013 -- they're also worrying about their kids' weight. Keeping your child's weight within normal limits can pay big health dividends for the rest of his life. As many as 33 percent of U.S. kids are overweight or obese, according to the American Heart Association. Checking your child's weight against national weight guidelines can help you act to change family eating and exercise habits to keep your kids healthy for life.

Weight and Height Charts

From the time your baby is born, his pediatrician plots his height and weight on a standardized chart that compares his vital statistics, including age, sex, weight and height, to other children. Height and weight fall into a percentile; a child whose height is in the 30th percentile and weight in the 10th percentile might be considered slightly underweight, while a child whose height is in the 30th percentile but whose weight is in the 80th percentile would be considered overweight. As long as your child's height and weight percentages are reasonably close, you don't need to worry about your child's weight.

BMI Measurements for Children

BMI stands for body mass index. This measurement of weight uses age, sex, height and weight to determine whether your child's body fat percentage falls within normal limits. If your child's BMI falls below the fifth percentile compared to others in his category, he's considered underweight. A child is considered overweight if his BMI falls between the 85th and 95th percentile and obese if his BMI is in the 95th percentile or higher, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A Weighty Problem

The problem of obesity has escalated since many of today's parents were children. Between 1971 and 1974, 4 percent of U.S. children ages 6 to 11 were overweight or obese. Between 2003 and 2006, 17 percent fell into the same category. For people between 12 and 19 years of age, the percentage rose from 6 percent to 17 percent during the same time periods. Because of this rise, the current generation of children could be the first to live shorter and less healthy lives than their parents, the American Heart Association quotes Surgeon General Richard Carmona as warning.

Recognizing a Problem

Recognizing that your child has a weight problem is the first step in doing something about it, but parents often don't take action. In a study published in the March 2006 issue of "Pediatrics," the magazine of the American Academy of Pediatrics, only 21 percent of parents described their preschooler as overweight. Just 26 percent of parents of overweight children worried about their child's weight. According to the CDC, one in three U.S. children will eventually develop diabetes. More than 60 percent of U.S. children consume too much saturated fat and don't get the fiber they need, both factors in blood glucose control. Use weight guidelines to help you recognize when your family needs dietary and lifestyle changes.

About the Author

A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.

Photo Credits

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