A: Weight becomes a concern only if a child’s body mass index (BMI) is high. Children with sturdy builds may not be at risk of health problems if their BMI is within normal range and their diet and exercise patterns are healthy. Also, some kids who are very muscular athletes may have a falsely elevated BMI.
Your child’s pediatrician can help determine his or her BMI. To calculate the BMI, we take into account the child’s weight in relationship to their height, then we plot it as compared with other children’s BMIs worldwide. If the BMI is over the 95th percentile, the child is considered obese.
All children should have a yearly physical with their primary care physician to make sure they are following healthy habits and are not at risk for health problems as adults. In evaluating a child’s health, we also evaluate diet and exercise patterns, and ask about family history of heart disease, fatty liver, diabetes or obesity.
The bottom line: If you are at all worried about your child’s weight, I encourage you to speak to your pediatrician.
—Pediatrician Vaishali Flask, MD