Using BMI to Assess Overweight and Obesity

Recommendations for Using BMI to Assess Overweight and Obesity

Because of the numerous advantages of using BMI-for-age to assess overweight and obesity among children and teens, expert committees have recommended BMI-for-age as the accepted measure (Barlow, 2007; Koplan, Liverman, Kraak, 2005).

  • In 2007, an expert committee published an update to the recommendations on the prevention, assessment, and treatment of child and adolescent overweight and obesity, which stated that “BMI should be used universally to assess children for obesity risk at least annually” (Barlow, 2007).

  • This expert committee also recommended that the cutoff points of the 85th through 95th percentiles and at or above the 95th percentiles remain unchanged from the 1998 expert committee report (Barlow and Dietz, 1998). They suggested that the terminology concur with the 2005 Institute of Medicine recommendations (Koplan, Liverman, Kraak, 2005) indicating that when BMI is at the 85th to 94th percentile, the term “overweight” be used, and when BMI is at or above the 95th percentile, then the term “obesity” be used (Barlow, 2007).