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Plotting & Interpreting BMI-for-Age

BMI-for-age can be plotted on growth charts, such as the one shown to the right. Age in years is on the x-axis; BMI is on the y-axis.

Percentile curves on the growth charts indicate the BMI-for-age percentile, which is the relative position of a child’s BMI to children of the same sex and age from the reference population used to create the growth charts.

In children aged 2 to 20, BMI categories are based on BMI-for-age percentiles and are defined as follows:

BMI categories based on BMI-for-age percentiles
BMI Category BMI Range
Underweight <5th percentile
Healthy Weight 5th to < 85th percentile
Overweight 85th to < 95th percentile
Obesity ≥ 95th percentile
Severe Obesity ≥ 120% of the 95th percentile or ≥ 35 kg/m2


Use the following case examples to practice plotting and interpreting BMI:

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