OBESITY: Updated Chart to Monitor Children’s Weight
Concerned about the growing number of overweight children, federal health officials released new growth charts for children yesterday at the National Nutrition Summit, the Washington Post reports. The body mass index (BMI), a standard measurement of weight, has been extended to children as young as 2 years and as old as 20 to best track physical development. "If we can begin to identify the children who are overweight at early ages, then we can begin to further prevent increases in this widespread problem of public health concern," Robert Kuczmarski, a nutritionist and health scientist at the National Center for Health Statistics, said (Squires, 5/31). The new BMI charts, developed by the CDC, replace the traditional height and weight charts used since 1977 and account for differences in race, ethnicity, geography, and how infants are fed. Previously, charts were based on a sample group of Caucasian, middle-class and formula-fed children in the Midwest. The number of American children who are overweight has doubled in the past 15 years, largely due to poor eating habits and insufficient exercise (Lueck, Wall Street Journal, 5/31). Not coincidentally, more than half of U.S. adults are also overweight or obese, which presents grave national concerns for increased risk of health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke. The BMI calculates total body fat by considering body weight and height, but until yesterday this effective tool was not available to children and adolescents (Washington Post, 5/31).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.