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Government Thinks I am Overweight or Obese

Ever wonder how the government determines if you are normal weight, overweight or obese? 

The U.S. government has set body mass index (BMI) cut points of less than 25 as normal weight, 25 to 29 as overweight, 30-39 as obese , and 40 or greater as extremely or morbidly obese.  If you your BMI is >25 you may not feel overweight or obese, but these BMI cut points were not arbitrarily chosen and should be taken seriously.

Years of studies have determined that cardiovascular mortality risk increases markedly at these cut points.  This means that researchers have seen a significant rise in the negative health effects and an increased relative risk of death these BMI cut points.

Similar cut points are not defined for children because children are still growing, but your child’s pediatrician is likely plotting your child’s weight, height, and BMI percentile on a growth chart.  This growth chart defines what is normal relative to age and height for children. 

At age 20, most people have reached their maximum height and their weight starts to level out.  Children who have a BMI in the 85th to 95th percentile for weight will fall within the overweight category and those who have a BMI 95th percentile or greater fall into the obese category.

If you or your child falls into the overweight or obese category, it is important to work with your primary physician or child’s pediatrician, respectively, to reduce you BMI by changing your lifestyle by eating healthy foods and reasonable portions and staying physically active.  Very few people and even fewer children are obese due to hormonal causes.  Eat less, move more, and your BMI will eventually fall within the normal range.

Bill Lagarde, MD, is a pediatric endocrinologist with WakeMed Children’s Diabetes and Endocrinology.  Dr. Lagarde is also the only full-time pediatric endocrinologist in Wake County.

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