The BMI Score

And what it means for your child’s health

The health and well-being of your child is important to us at Head Start.  As you know, we do a variety of health screenings, including height and weight.  We then determine your child’s ratio of weight to height (or BMI) and plot this on a growth chart. Sometimes, children can score outside of the normal weight (healthy range), either being underweight, overweight, or obese. Below are typical children’s BMI charts:

The following information is from American Heart Association.

Body Mass Index is calculated using weight and height measurements and is an indicator of body fatness. It is not a direct measurement of fat, but research has shown that BMI measurements correlate to direct measurement. It’s an inexpensive and easy-to-perform way to screen for possible weight issues that may lead to health problems. BMI is measured differently in adults than in children, so it is important to use the proper calculator to find out yours and your child’s separately.

What does my child’s BMI mean?

For children, BMI is evaluated using age- and gender-specific charts that take into account the different growth patterns by gender. Weight and body fat differ for boys and girls, and those levels change as they grow taller and older.


Below Healthy Range

Having a low BMI  may bring future health problems such as risk of fragile bones, delayed brain development and weakened immunity.  It is important to check with your child’s doctor to rule out any medical issues.  It is also important to help your child catch up to a normal weight range. 


Above healthy Range

A BMI that falls outside the healthy range can set your child up for a future of health problems such as early puberty, sleep apnea, arthritis, heart disease and diabetes. You want your child to have a healthy life, but sometimes it’s hard to know how to get started.

If your child’s current BMI is outside of the recommended range, the good news is that with small lifestyle changes, your child can enjoy a healthy future! If you are a Head Start parent, your Family Specialist, Home Visitor, or teacher will help you come up with a plan that can lead to greater health– not only for your child, but also for your whole family.

Continue to Part II