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New study questions the use of BMI-for-age in defining obese children

Childhood obesity is related to different serious health problems, and the number of obese children all over the world is on the rise. Yet, defining obesity and overweight children is the first challenge; and for that purpose, pediatrics uses certain measurements including Body Mass Index (BMI)-for-age chart. But, a study published recently has questioned that measurement set.

Researchers, at the Department of Pediatrics at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, studied a number of 2259 participant over the period of 18 month and they noticed that while 16.1% were classified as obese using BMI-for-age standard, only 14.3% were classified using the weight-for-age cut off. Thus, using weight for age instead of BMI-for-age is promising consistent and more accurate results.

According to the study that was recently published at Journal of Research in Obesity, the researchers said that “If we use weight-for-age > 95th percentile as a screening tool, we can identify approximately two thirds of obese children without falsely labeling others as obese.”

The benefit of that accurate obesity classification can help pediatricians and specialty clinics that focus on childhood obesity in preventative and outpatient management “especially if early intervention has any role in reducing longer-term morbidity.” “Given the high specificity of the weight-for-age> 95th percentile cut-off, we can avoid erroneous stigmatization of this label and potentially unnecessary treatments or interventions.”

Research: Accuracy of the Weight-for-age Index in Identifying Obese Children in the Emergency Setting, Reetika Tripathi, QuynhDoan, Vikram Sabhaney and Kathy Boutis, Journal of Research in Obesity, DOI: 10.5171/2014.558641, published 30 April 2014.


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