Providers’ use of body mass index (BMI) is a key strategy for preventing childhood obesity.
As more US states enact BMI screening policies for children enrolled in grades K-12, many providers can choose to start earlier. BMI monitoring, complemented by caregiver counseling, can prevent childhood obesity and assist parents in making healthy lifestyle choices for their families.
Here are the top five reasons screening children 2-5 years of age can help prevent childhood obesity:
1) The earlier the better. As with any chronic disease early recognition often leads to a better prognosis.
2) Childhood obesity and low self-esteem go hand in hand. Research has shown that overweight children, especially girls, are aware of their weight as early as age five.
3) Healthy range verses ideal numbers. Using a BMI percentile demonstrates that children need are in a healthy range for both height and weight rather focusing on achieving an ideal number on a scale.
4) Standard of care. BMI measuring at every well visit is recommended by the American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics.
5) Time efficient. BMI measuring, when done correctly, is easy, time efficient and more accurate than growth charts.
BMI is sensitive to measurement errors, particularly height. Having a standard measurement protocol as well as providing physician and nurse training can improve accuracy. To learn more about BMI monitoring visit the CDC website: