Is my child a healthy weight?
A healthy weight is defined by a body composition that positively contributes to an individuals’ overall health, wellbeing, and quality of life over their lifespan. Healthy weights in children vary by age, sex, and height. It is also important to remember that weight is only one marker of health and a healthy weight is different for each individual child.
If you are concerned that your child is above a healthy weight, it is important to visit your family doctor for an assessment.
One tool your family doctor will use to assess whether your child is overweight or obese is to measure his or her body mass index (BMI). Body mass index is an indirect indicator of body fat. It is a measurement based on height and weight that tells if a child or adult is in a healthy range compared to his or her peers. The BMI may not be an accurate indicator of body fat if your child is very muscular. The Canadian Medical Association recommends that physicians calculate BMI in children 2 years and up. You can calculate your child’s BMI by linking with the Dietitians of Canada website.
A growth chart is used to correctly interpret a child’s BMI. After you have calculated your child’s BMI, you may want to plot your child’s BMI on a growth chart. The Childhood Obesity Foundation recommends using the World Health Organization (WHO) Growth Charts adapted for Canada and posted on the Dietitians of Canada website. There are growth charts for boys and girls 2-19 years old.
If you have plotted your child’s BMI on the growth chart and it is in the overweight or obese range, it is recommended that you visit your family doctor for an assessment. If your child’s BMI is in the normal range, and you still have concerns about your child’s weight we recommend that you visit your family doctor.
Following an assessment, your family doctor can advise you on next steps which may include a referral to a paediatrician with expertise in the area of childhood obesity or a referral to a childhood healthy weights program such as the ShapedownBC Program, Generation Health or HealthLink BC’s Eating and Activity Program for Kids.
For more about how you can help your child, please read the Families section of this website.