What Parents Should Know about their child’s BMI
WHAT IS A BMI?
BMI, or Body Mass Index, is a measure of the proportion of one’s body fat, compared to height. It is a screening tool, used, not to diagnose, but as one of many indicators of a healthy weight range. When assessing BMI, medical professionals also consider some, or all, components such as ethnicity, female/male, bone density, stature, and age.
Around 2000, measuring the BMI of infants and children became a contended topic among parents, pediatricians, and even state legislators. In the same timeframe, the Center for Disease Control highly recommended that we measure and monitor our BMIs. But when childhood obesity was a declared a national epidemic, the question of whether schools should screen children’s BMI, garnered nationwide attention.
BMI IN SCHOOL
Districts and legislators battled whether students’ BMI results should be sent to parents in confidential letters called, “BMI report cards.” By 2001, the Arkansas state legislature required the issuance of BMI report cards. Other states followed suit. Texas, however, was strongly against it. Today, 25 states require and or monitor BMI testing in public schools. Though our legislature, as of 2015, does not require screening or reporting, the measure has nevertheless, become quite popular.
Whether you should monitor your child’s BMI, at least here in Texas, is a private parental decision. For many families, it is a simple, reliable, and less expensive indicator of children’s growth. Your child’s pediatrician can determine the measurement, but you can too, right at home.
HOW DO I MEASURE MY CHILD’S BMI?
To properly measure your child’s BMI, you will need:
- Scale (or record of the child’s current weight)
- Measuring tape (or record of child’s current height)
- BMI Calculator, for Children (available, here)
For a most accurate reading, type your child’s current weight in pounds, and height in inches, into the online Children’s BMI calculator. To calculate the BMI number without the calculator, use this equation:
[weight in pounds ÷ height in inches ÷ height in inches] × 703
The number corresponds to the BMI chart, and the chart will tell you whether where the number falls in percentile for weight: age. Remember, this number is not definitive, but it is, “…a valuable tool in the early identification of excessive weight gain in children. Because obesity is difficult to treat, early intervention in overweight children is critical.”
Whether the debate about the relevance of school monitoring continues, no one knows for sure, but what we at Fly Movement know, is that physical fitness and healthy food choices lessen the risk of weight associated infirmities and illnesses. The BMI may not be all telling, but it is a tool that assists you in the balance of your child’s health and wellness. We support its use, as well as your decision to enact it.
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About the Author
Stephanie Tillman volunteers her content writing to Fly Movement. She is a Texas licensed attorney and flight attendant. She pens creative nonfiction and web content from her Houston, Texas home.