Body Mass Index (BMI)

Your child’s doctor can help you figure out if your child’s weight could pose health problems. To do this, your child’s doctor will calculate your child’s body mass index (BMI). The BMI indicates if your child is overweight for his or her age and height.
Your doctor determines your child’s percentile, meaning how your child compares with other children of the same sex and age. For example, you might be told that your child is in the 80th percentile. This means that compared with other children of the same sex and age, 80 percent have a lower BMI.
Cutoff points, established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), help identify overweight and obese children:
  • BMI-for-age between 85th and 94th percentiles — overweight
  • BMI-for-age 95th percentile or above — obesity
You can use the BMI calculator on KidsHealth to determine your child's BMI, but it's also important to have your doctor perform regular BMI measurements. That way, you'll know the number is accurate and the doctor can discuss the results with you.
Tips on measuring children's height and weight accurately at home.