A recent study says that focusing only on BMI for determining childhood obesity is not right. In this way, the effectiveness of interventions intended to manage obesity is ignored.
This study was published in a leading journal, Childhood Obesity.
About the study
Maria Kolotourou and others were part of the Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do It (MEND, a childhood obesity Intervention). It was a trial program conducted by University of London, Mytime MEND and University College of London. The researchers congregated data from a group of obese children prior to participating in the MEND. The data was recollected after an interval of 6 months and then 12 months.
The researchers not only took into account the BMI, but also various factors like degree of change in BMI, cardiovascular fitness, waist circumference, physical activity, and self-esteem.
The findings of the study
The authors of the study found improvements on several fronts, and it was completely independent of whether there was an increase, decrease or no change in the BMI index.
According to the Editor-in-chief of the journal, David L. Katz, the article strongly points to the fact that good interventions, which could help obese and overweight children lose weight, should be given due consideration. Moreover, it signals that a child can still be healthy irrespective of any change in weight.
Is BMI the best alternative to measure body fat?
Before answering this question, it is important to understand more about BMI. Body Mass Index (BMI) is an indicator to measure the body fat. A mathematical formula based on height and weight of a person, BMI is an important tool to determine any future health problems.
However, additional clinical information is also required to diagnose obesity and other possible health risks. The clinical information includes family history, diet pattern, body fat percentage, and exercise regimen. However, to diagnose obesity in children aged 2-18 years, age and gender specific references for BMI were included in the CDC growth chart in the year 2000.
For children in the age group of 2-18 years, BMI is defined by six categories as:
|BMI < 5th percentile||Underweight|
|BMI 5th-84th percentile||Healthy Weight|
|BMI 85th-94th percentile||Overweight|
|BMI ≥ 95th percentile||Obese|
|BMI ≥ 99th percentile*||Severe Obesity|
|Children < 2 years: Weight-for-height > 95th percentile||Overweight|
Age and sex- specific percentile was included for two reasons:
- Changes in body fat level with age.
- Differences between the body fat in boys and girls.
There are instances that even if two children have the same BMI values, one is obese while the other is not. As we already discussed, in case of children, BMI-for-Age is followed. Therefore, if the children are not of the same age and sex, the same BMI can have different interpretations.
The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation 2010, says that to assess whether the child weighs healthy or not is still tricky. Although BMI is used, medical experts and pediatricians should also take into consideration clinical assessments and other markers.
Wilson Helly, who is a mother of two years old, is also an avid blogger who writes mainly on health and fitness problems. You would many of her articles on medexpressrx.com. License: Image author owned