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; US Preventative Task Force, 2017).

  • 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).
  • The expert committee recommended defining overweight as BMI greater than or equal to the 85th percentile but less than the 95th percentile for age and sex, and obesity as BMI greater than or equal to the 95th percentile (Barlow, 2007).
  • In 2014, the American Heart Association adopted the definition of severe obesity for children1,2, which is BMI ≥120% of the 95th percentile or BMI ≥35 kg/m2.
    1. Flegal paper ref: Characterizing extreme values of body mass index–for-age by using the 2000 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts
Connect with Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity