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Childhood Obesity

Question of the Week

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Updated August 31, 2012

Q. My daughter is 4ft and she is 8 years old and 4 mon and she weighs 69lbs. Is she overweight and should I be doing something about it if she is? Dorothy, Pasadena, MD

A. The best way to tell if a child is overweight or not is to check their body mass index.

Using our online BMI Calculator, you can see that an 8 year 4 month old girl who is 4 feet tall and weighs 69 pounds, has a BMI of 21.1. That puts her at the 95th percentile and means that she is at risk of becoming overweight. Children over the 95th percentile are considered to be overweight.

But remember that BMI doesn't measure body fat, so it is possible to be overweight but not 'fat.' People who are very muscular can have a high BMI, low body fat, and are not really 'overweight.' If you think that your child is very muscular, talk to your Pediatrician about these results to see if she really is overweight.

From checking our growth charts, you can see that while she is near the top of the charts for her weight, her height is below average. That is what makes her BMI high.

Even though she isn't officially overweight, since she is at risk of becoming overweight, you should do something about it. Among the first things you should do is schedule an appointment with your Pediatrician to review her growth chart from the last few years, her diet, and her activity level.

Our articles on childhood obesity may also be helpful.

Keep in mind that if she hasn't gained a lot of weight recently, has a healthy diet, and is fairly active, then you may not have to make any big changes to what she is already doing. As she enters puberty and goes through a growth spurt, she will get taller and probably 'grow into her weight,' as long as she doesn't put on too much extra weight.

Also, many girls put on a little extra weight just before starting puberty, although that may be a few years away since she is only 8 years old.

If her diet isn't very healthy, with a lot of fast food, junk food, and soda, or if she is a 'couch potato' and rarely exercises, then you should make some changes so that she doesn't become overweight.

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