CDC updates child growth charts to reflect higher BMIs

CDC updates child growth charts to reflect higher BMIs

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For parents, a visit to the pediatrician usually involves discussing where their child falls growth chart created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Now, in an effort to better treat and track children with a high body mass index (BMI), the agency has issued advanced growth charts for children with a BMI not reflected in the older tables.

The old BMI charts were issued in 2000 based on representative data from the 1960s to the 1980s. Because due to a lack of data, obese children are not reflected in these charts, which extend to the 97th percentile and a BMI of 37. The new charts extend to a BMI of 60 and show how far a child’s BMI is from the average measures for children of same age and gender.

The CDC defines severe obesity as a BMI greater than or equal to 120 percent of the 95th percentile on BMI-for-age growth charts. A severely obese 2-year-old, for example, would have a BMI over 23, while a severely obese 13-year-old would have a BMI over 31 for girls and 30 for boys.

“I encourage health care providers to use advanced growth charts as a tool when working with severely obese children and adolescents,” Karen Hacker, director of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, said in a news release exemption. “Early intervention is critical to improving our children’s health as they grow into adults.”

When it comes to children and adolescents without obesity, the previous growth charts will not change. CDC decided to retain the existing percentile system to maintain a reference point for historical BMI measurements and for research comparability purposes.

Obesity rates among children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years rose from 5.2 percent in 1970-1971 to 19.3 percent in 2017-2018, according to the CDC. The rate of severe obesity in the age group increased from 1% in 1970-1971 to 6.1% in 2017-2018.

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